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  • 1 October 2015 to 31 December 2016
  • Project No: 260
  • Funding round: FR 9
  • Medical Education

It has become increasingly clear that there is a problem with GP recruitment. An insufficient proportion of junior doctors are choosing to train for and work in general practice, and this contributes to rising workloads, which are reducing the capacity of primary care doctors to function effectively in delivering high quality services to patients.  

Although medical school training provides opportunities to observe many forms of medical work, not all specialist careers can be experienced first-hand and the duration of contact and depth of engagement of students varies across medical schools and according to local circumstances. When doctors apply for higher training programmes at the beginning of their second year in clinical practice, they have limited practical workplace exposure obtained during their initial training posts.

Partial understanding of doctors’ career choices is informed by anecdotal evidence, individual reports and limited primary data from studies of medical student preferences. Multiple factors have been implicated in career decision-making; some are related to life experience, others to how diverse roles, responsibilities and rewards are perceived.

If the future of primary care is to be strengthened by a stable and well-motivated GP workforce, there needs to be a change in recruitment to higher professional training, with more junior doctors choosing general practice. Strategies proposed to alter the balance of recruitment between specialities are built on assumptions about which factors are most influential when choosing final careers.

By seeking the questionnaire responses of a large sample of doctors preparing to enter higher training and in-depth analysis of the contextual information provided by interviewing a smaller group, a better understanding of the underlying factors which influence how doctors select from possible options will support development of policies and structures to achieve a balanced and fit-for-purpose workforce.  

NIHR Journals Library

Final report


Projects by themes

We have grouped projects under the five SPCR themes in this document

Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.