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Trends in attractiveness of general practice as a career: Surveys of views of UK-trained doctors

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Fay SmithORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


© British Journal of General Practice 2017.Background It is current UK policy to expand the numbers of newly qualified doctors entering training to become GPs, to meet increased demand. Aim To report on trends in young doctors' views on the attractiveness of general practice as a career, compared with hospital practice. Design and setting Questionnaire surveys in the UK. Method Surveys of doctors, 3 years after graduation, conducted in successive year-of-qualification cohorts between 1999 and 2015. Results The overall response rate from contactable doctors was 55%. In response to the statement 'General practice is more attractive than hospital practice for doctors at present', 59% of doctors agreed in the 1999 survey, 77% in 2005, and only 36% in 2015. One-third of doctors agreed that their exposure to general practice had been insufficient for them to assess it as a career option, but this improved over time: Agreement fell from 39% in 1999 to 28% in 2015. As a factor influencing specialty choice, enthusiasm for, and commitment to, the specialty was rated as very important by 65% of intending GPs in 2015, up from 49% in 1999; the corresponding figures for intending hospital doctors were 91% in 2015, up from 61% in 1999. Conclusion Over the 16 years covered by this study, the attractiveness of general practice has fallen relative to hospital practice. This may not necessarily reflect a decline in attractiveness of general practice in absolute terms; rather, it may reflect a greater increase, over time, in the appeal of hospital practice.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lambert TW, Smith F, Goldacre MJ

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of General Practice

Year: 2017

Volume: 67

Issue: 657

Pages: e238-e247

Print publication date: 01/04/2017

Online publication date: 30/03/2017

Acceptance date: 13/12/2016

ISSN (print): 0960-1643

ISSN (electronic): 1478-5242

Publisher: Royal College of General Practitioners


DOI: 10.3399/bjgp17X689893

PubMed id: 28289015