Intended for healthcare professionals


Choosing general practice as a career

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 26 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2611
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}


Between 1999 and 2015 Oxford University researchers surveyed 9161 doctors, asking about their future specialty choices three years after they had graduated from medical school1


In 1999 more than half (59%) of doctors agreed with the statement, “General practice is more attractive than hospital practice for doctors at present.” By 2005 this had risen to 77%.


But by 2015 only 36% of respondents agreed that general practice was more attractive than hospital practice.


In 1999 just under half (49%) of doctors who were intending to become GPs said that enthusiasm for, and commitment to, the specialty was very important. By 2015 this figure had risen to 65%. There was also a rise in the corresponding figures for doctors intending to work in hospital medicine, from 61% in 1999 to 91% in 2015.

Work-life balance

For doctors who chose general practice, wanting a job with acceptable hours and working conditions “retained a huge level of importance” over the 16 year study period. This aspect was less important to doctors who chose hospital practice.


“The attractiveness of general practice to current medical graduates is undoubtedly affected by their beliefs about GPs’ work-life balance and their exposure to general practice in their training,” the researchers concluded.


View Abstract