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Views And Reviews Acute Perspective

David Oliver: Making less popular medical jobs more attractive

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 10 July 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k2936
  1. David Oliver, consultant in geriatrics and acute general medicine
  1. Berkshire
  1. davidoliver372{at}

Medicine has an unwritten hierarchy of perceived glamour and prestige. This ends up having a real impact on patient care, as it affects who chooses to work in what specialty and which specialties struggle to recruit. Julian Simpson discussed this hierarchy in The BMJ in May,1 when he highlighted the NHS’s reliance on overseas trained doctors from ethnic minorities for unpopular specialties in deprived or remote UK regions.

Many doctors, including me, actively choose disciplines that are generally (if often unfairly) seen as overstretched, less glamorous, struggling to fill all posts, or with lower earning potential. I’ve never regretted being a geriatrician and general internal medicine physician. This is about tendencies and trends, not absolutes. But what makes a specialty seem more prestigious to potential applicants?

In my experience, terms such as teaching hospital, highly specialised, high tech, interventional, curative, physical health, younger, single organ system, and research …

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