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Changes in factors influencing doctors’ career choices between one and five years after graduation: questionnaire surveys of UK doctors

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Fay SmithORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by SAGE Publications Ltd, 2016.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2016, © The Royal Society of Medicine. Objectives: To study changes in factors influencing doctors’ career specialty choices between one and five years after graduation. Design: Questionnaire survey. Setting: UK. Participants: A total of 10,473 doctors who replied to our surveys both one and five years after graduating from all UK medical schools between 1993 and 2008. Main outcome measures: The importance of each of 12 specified factors in influencing the doctors’ choice of future specialty ‘a great deal’. Method: Questionnaires by post and email. Results: Enthusiasm for and commitment to the specialty was the greatest influence on career choice at year 1 (66%) and year 5 (74%). Domestic circumstances increased in importance more than any other factor (from 22.5% to 41.3%); 26% of doctors rated this as important in year 5 but not in year 1. Other factors which increased in importance from year 1 to year 5 included hours/working conditions, experience of the job so far and self-appraisal of own skills. There was an increase in the importance of promotion/career prospects, self-appraisal of own skills, student experience of subject and enthusiasm/commitment for more recent cohorts compared with older cohorts. Between years 1 and 5, there was a greater increase in the importance of domestic circumstances, hours/working conditions and eventual financial prospects for intending General Practitioners than for other doctors. Conclusions: Doctors remain committed to their specialty between years 1 and 5, but the influence of domestic circumstances and hours and working conditions grew stronger.

Publication metadata

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

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

Year: 2016

Volume: 109

Issue: 11

Pages: 416-425

Print publication date: 01/11/2016

Online publication date: 29/09/2016

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 28/05/2019

ISSN (print): 0141-0768

ISSN (electronic): 1758-1095

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/0141076816672432


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