Intended for healthcare professionals

Head To Head

Does it matter that medical graduates don’t get jobs as doctors? Yes

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 01 May 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:990

Jobs for medical graduates

Most British A-level students who opt for a career in medicine express altruistic sentiments that they rarely get an opportunity to satisfy. However, they are well aware that they are likely to end up in well-paid interesting jobs backed up by generous index-linked pensions. Thus, it is not surprising that English-speaking doctors from developing countries are attracted to the UK and the USA. Most claim to be seeking higher clinical training but many are looking to settle into comfortable permanent careers in the health service of their chosen country. This drain on the medical (and nursing) workforce of developing countries is inconsistent with efforts to improve global healthcare (1,2,3).

The present problems of providing jobs for junior doctors could be ameliorated by organising training programmes that included a spell of work in a developing country. As Patel Vikram wrote "The opportunity to work in different societies is a rich experience with benefits that go beyond financial gain"(1). Of course there would be considerable logistic difficulties and the GMC would have to demonstrate flexibility (3). However, it would be a splendid challenge for the International Department of the Royal College of Physicians.

1. Vikram P. Recruiting doctors from poor countries: the great drain robbery. BMJ 2003; 327: 926-8.

2. Dere L Buch E. The future of healthcare in Africa. BMJ 2005; 331: 1-2.

3. Whitty CJM Doull L. Global health partnerships. BMJ 2007; 334: 595-6.

Competing interests: None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

09 May 2008
Graham Neale
Visiting professor
Clinical Safety Research Unit, Dept of Surgery, Imperial College, St Mary's Hospital London W2 1NY