Intended for healthcare professionals

Medical Practice

Reasons for doctors' career choice and change of choice

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 11 June 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:1651
  1. J Parkhouse,
  2. D J Ellin


    In a study of doctors who qualified from British medical schools in 1974 and 1977, which was carried out five to 11 years after graduation, frequent changes of career choice were found. Most of these changes occurred at a relatively early stage. There was a shift of choices towards general practice, and to a lesser extent other specialties, predominantly from medicine, surgery, and paediatrics. Great importance was attached to self evaluation of aptitude and ability as a factor in determining the choice of career and also to awareness of promotion prospects and difficulties. The absence of or failure of careers advice to influence choice of career was notable as was the little importance attached to financial circumstances. Domestic circumstances were an important determinant, particularly for general practice and for women doctors. Among those who qualified in 1980 and 1983, at the preregistration stage, domestic circumstances were less important than they were for slightly older doctors, but undergraduate experience had a greater influence. Contact with a particular teacher or department was not, however, a notable element in this.

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