Fifth of new doctors want career change after first year of training

One in five trainee doctors are looking to change careers following their first foundation year of training, a poll shows, with over half admitting the experience made them question their career choice.

Many young doctors plan career change (Photo: iStock)
Many young doctors plan career change (Photo: iStock)

Almost two thirds (60%) of newly-qualified doctors are excited about their future careers, according to a snapshot survey of 450 trainees who had just completed their first foundation year.

When asked about their experience during the year, the respondents were split evenly, with a third indicating they found it to be better than expected, a third worse than expected and a third ‘as expected’.

But over half said the first year on the job had made them question their career choice – with a fifth admitting that they were now looking to change careers.

A quarter said it had made them regret entering the profession, and they would not make the same career decision if given their time again.

Some 79% said they still intended to become doctors, and a similar proportion – 80% – said they had enjoyed their first year.

Trainee doctors

The survey, run by medical defence organisation Medical Protection, also found that ‘not having enough time’ to give patients the care they need was the most common reason trainees found their year challenging, with 85% raising this as a factor.

This was followed by managing unrealistic expectations (73%) – with one in four (27%) worrying about being sued or facing complaints.

The majority said they had struggled with lack of sleep, long hours, heavy workloads and adjusting to shifts.

Dr Gordon McDavid, medicolegal adviser at Medical Protection, said: ‘It is encouraging to see so many young doctors feeling positive about their first year, and hopefully experiencing those rewarding moments when you know that despite the challenges, you’ve made a difference and becoming a doctor was the best decision you ever made.

‘It is however a tough profession. The environment can prove emotionally and physically testing, and for some the reality of being a doctor may not match their expectations.

‘In our survey, young doctors tell us they struggle with heavy workloads, long hours, lack of sleep, isolation and difficulties building working relationships due to frequent rotations. It is vital all new doctors seek support from their supervisors, and take care of their health.’

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