Junior doctors need flexibility in specialist training

Medical training in the UK should be more flexible to ensure doctors make the right choices about how they specialise, a study suggests.

Changes to postgraduate medical training that have meant doctors have to decide earlier how to specialise may be forcing some to make decisions earlier than they would like, researchers believe.

A team from the University of Oxford compared 15,759 doctors’ early career choices with their eventual career destinations, surveying them one, three, five and 10 years after graduation.

The team found that, a decade after graduating, almost half of doctors were working in a specialty different from the one chosen in their first year after graduation. A quarter of doctors were working in a specialty different from their choices at three years after graduation.

Large differences existed between specialities, with only half of GPs choosing their speciality in year one after graduation, compared with 90 per cent of surgeons.

The researchers concluded that one to three years after graduation was a key period for the formation of young doctors’ career plans.

They said increased flexibility in medical training would allow a later choice for graduates to choose a speciality.

‘Some [doctors] expressed concerns about having only one lifetime opportunity to succeed in getting on to a training programme for their chosen specialty,' wrote the researchers.

‘We suggest that at least two possible entry points should be available for most specialties - the first after one or perhaps two years of foundation training and the other at (say) three years.’

In an accompanying editorial, Jeremy Brown, a senior lecturer at Edge Hill University in Lancashire, warned that ‘specialty programmes need to identify ways of supporting those trainees who need time and experience in the postgraduate setting to make a firm commitment that will match their eventual career destination.’

He concluded: ‘These findings may strengthen the argument that the existing two year foundation programme, followed by two or three years of core specialist training, may provide the necessary flexibility to match and underpin the natural variation in career aspirations for many postgraduate doctors.’

Click here to visit our GP Registrars Resource Centre

Click here to visit the GP Curriculum Centre

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Beccy Baird, senior fellow, King's Fund

PCNs need more support to recruit and integrate additional roles staff

General practice and PCNs need more support to integrate additional roles staff into...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: What does the future hold for primary care networks?

Talking General Practice speaks to Beccy Baird from the King's Fund about how PCNs...

Vaccination tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul

'Premature' scrapping of Plan B risks fresh spike in COVID-19 infections

Government plans to scrap Plan B measures from 27 January are premature and threaten...

NHS logo on tiled wall

GP recruitment and funding at risk from delayed ICS start date

General practice recruitment and access to funding could be disrupted by confusion...

CQC chief inspector of primary medical services Dr Rosie Benneyworth

CQC process may 'disadvantage' ethnic minority-led GP practices, regulator admits

GP practices led by doctors from ethnic minorities may be 'disadvantaged' by the...