The study backs long-standing calls from the RCGP and other GP organisations for medical students to be exposed to general practice and informed about the career opportunities it offers.
GP leaders have warned more must be done to boost recruitment to general practice. Data released last year showed one in ten GPs are now over 60 years old and growth in full-time equivalent GPs had flatlined.
RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada told GPonline.com that greater exposure to general practice was a key factor: ‘We should make sure that all medical students have a stint in a GP practice.’
In the study, 133 first- and second-year medical students in Germany were asked to complete questionnaires about their career aspirations before and after a short GP practice placement.
The elective consisted of a seven-hour preparatory course and three days of community-based practical experience with one-to-one mentoring by trained family physicians.
The proportion of students declaring general practice as their favoured career option rose from 26% to 33% after the placements. The proportion not prepared to consider a career in general practice dropped from 29% to 18%.
The young doctor who won last year’s RCGP Fraser Rose medal recognising her exceptional performance as a GP trainee, Dr Deepak Hora, has also argued that more medical students would be attracted to general practice if they knew what it had to offer.