Career intentions and perceptions of general practice on entry to medical school: baseline findings of a longitudinal survey at three UK universities.

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Massou, Efthalia 
Brimicombe, James 
Kinnear, John 
Tisi, Roger 

BACKGROUND: Medical graduates from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge have a lower intention to become GPs compared with other UK medical graduates. It is not clear to what extent this difference is present on admission to medical school. AIM: To compare the career intention and influencing factors of students on admission to different UK medical schools. DESIGN & SETTING: First year of a 6-year prospective cohort study of medical students admitted in autumn 2020 to the three East of England medical schools: University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Cambridge (UOC), and Anglia Ruskin University (ARU). METHOD: An online survey instrument was administered at the beginning of the first year. This measured self-reported career interests and various influencing factors, including perceptions of general practice. RESULTS: UOC students declared a lower intention to become a doctor, a higher likelihood of choosing careers in pathology and public health, and a much lower likelihood of becoming a GP than students of UEA or ARU (all at P<0.001). In all three schools, the phrases least associated with general practice were 'opportunities for creativity/innovation' and 'research/academic opportunities', whereas the phrases most associated with general practice were 'favourable working hours' and 'flexibility'. However, research/academic opportunities were far more important, and favourable working hours far less important, to UOC students (P<0.001 for both) than to students of UEA or ARU. CONCLUSION: UOC students' lower intention to become a GP appears to be present on entry to medical school. This may be explained in part by these students placing a higher importance on research/academic opportunities, combined with the widely held perception that GP careers lack these opportunities.

career choice, general practice, intention, medical schools, medical students, perception, primary healthcare, prospective studies
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Royal College of General Practitioners
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