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Medical students consider non-clinical careers after junior contract imposition

Exclusive Medical students are considering ditching the NHS and pursuing careers in non-clinical careers, including charities and finance and technology companies, after health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced he would impose a controversial new contract on junior doctors, Pulse has discovered. 

Disillusioned newly qualified and student doctors have approached university medical societies saying they are looking at working as medics in different countries - including the devolved nations - or considering leaving medicine and pursuing different careers entirely.

Figures from the GMC have also revealed that the number of doctors applying for certificates allowing them to work abroad rocketed following the announcement.

Mr Hunt said that the Government would impose a contract from August, which would see junior doctors having their premium for working on Saturdays reduced.

The BMA responded by announcing three more 48-hour strikes in March and April, during which junior doctors will only provide emergency care, and the launch of a judicial review to look at the legality of imposing the contract without carrying out an impact assessment.

It also said it expected students to look outside the English NHS as a result of the imposed contract.

And Pulse has been told by medical student bodies that they are receiving enquiries about a range of careers, including:

  • Working outside England, principally in Australia, Canada, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand or the US;
  • Entrepreneurial ventures, like developing apps and other technology;
  • Entering the financial sector;
  • Entering the charity sector;
  • Taking time out of medicine after graduating and returning at a later date.

A University of Nottingham medical society president Kim Stallard said: ‘Many students have mentioned to me that they either intend to work abroad (Australia or Canada) or work in Scotland or wales rather than in England.

’A low number have stated that they are looking into other careers, particularly in the financial sector and in the charitable sector.’

Barts and The London Student Association President Will Atkins said that the contracts dispute has given medical students ’serious concerns about the value the Government places in the continued existence of the service’. 

He added: A number of medical students have approached me about alternative careers, asking whether you could take time out of medicine after graduating before returning at a later date once things have settled down.

’Others have begun to develop entrepreneurial interests around things like app production and other technology.’

Mr Atkins said that a large number of students at Barts have become interested in practising outside the UK, particularly in Australia Canada and the US. 

A society for students interested in taking the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) needed to practice in the US has recently been set up at Barts, with its first event attracting 400 students.

Medical school students at universities in Ireland, Scotland and Wales will not be affected by the new contract, meaning many student doctors in the devolved nations considering careers in England are now looking to stay.

A University of Glasgow medical society representative said: ‘I was offered academic jobs in England and turned them down at least in part because I don’t want to work in a dangerous NHS. I feel that doctors are a lot more valued in Scotland. I expect we will see a surge in applications to Scotland, Ireland and Wales.’

The number of GPs considering working abroad rocketed on the day of the contract announcement.

The GMC said there were 298 applications for certificates of current professional status (CCPs) applications - which are necessary for UK-trained doctors to work abroad - on 11 February and 106 the following day, compared with 261 in in total from 1 February to 10 February.

Pulse last year reported that recruitment agencies looking to post UK doctors to overseas roles have quoted Jeremy Hunt’s 7-day working plan to attract GPs.

This comes as Pulse this month revealed that the number of medical graduates applying for general practice fell by 5% on last year to a record low, despite a national recruitment campaign run by Health Education England.

A BMA spokesperson said: ’It’s not surprising that junior doctors and medical students are considering their future in the NHS in light of what would be a completely unacceptable decision to impose an unfit and unfair contract.’

What’s the latest on the junior doctor contract row?


Junior Doctor Strike 2016

Junior Doctor Strike 2016

The BMA is launching a judicial review over the ‘embarrassing’ revelation that the Government failed to carry out an equality impact assessment before imposing a new contract on junior doctors in England.


It will also hold three more 48-hour strikes in March and April, during which junior doctors will only provide emergency care.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt this month announced that he was imposing a contract on junior doctors after talks broke down over the issue of evening and weekend pay, with the Government refusing to step back from its decision to remove ‘unsociable hours’ pay premiums from Saturdays and weekday evenings.


Readers' comments (39)

  • Mr Hunt medical students are not passive lambs coming to the slaughter house.

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  • Medical students

    obviously dont believe the lies, hype and spin eminating from the orifices of our leadership.

    The fact is that its never been a worse time to be a medical student, junior doctor, GP or consultant.....

    The people being preached to are not stupid, they can smell the faeces and see it with their own eyes.

    students and juniors today are savvy and well informed hence the reason why they are looking to placed like the USA where with hard graft and effort doctors can have a well paid rewarding career and engage i meaningful research etc....

    the world is your oyster!!


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  • Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of Ofsted, warned that English schools are facing a “brain drain” of teaching professionals because they are being lured to overseas private schools – especially campuses of elite British schools.

    Dear Mr Hunt- the Doctors are no different and hope you will wish them well as our talent and brightest leave UK. Don't worry they will turn the lights off on leaving UK- and save you money.

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  • Poor After all those years of studying at school then surviving at med school for 5 or 6 uears, they get faced with this absolute $;&#&$^#&.
    At least they are looking into alternatives and I hope they find their way in the world.
    It is a double blow, not only for them but also for their family.
    At least most of them will be mobile and able to emigrate to a country who appreciates their skills.

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  • Its really quite clear what is happening in the UK.

    It is run by autocrats and career politicians , with a very London centric view of the world and very little experience in the real world. This has led to an addled idiocy and moribund mentality that is, quite simply, incapable of growing an economy and overseeing public services competently.

    I read today that Gideon Osbornes' answer to the perceived "black clouds" on the world economic horizon are to inflict even "deeper cuts on public services" and to pursue austerity with even greater zeal.

    Essentially 8 years of similar policy have failed to bring Britain back from the doldrums and left it ever increasingly vulnerable to events outside its borders.

    its no longer conjecture that these lunatics cannot be trusted with the responsibilites they have been entrusted with and yet they have an appalling lack of insight and arrogant disregard for the many experts across a whole range of sectors that are crying out to reverse this madness.

    Doctors and health professionals in general are expected to bear the brunt of this incompetence by working much harder, for much longer, for far less pay and prospects. As such if you were in during the good times and are closer to the finish line or exits, you are okay.

    However if you are young, newly qualified or still in training, the decisions made without your consent are condemning you to a life of misery, penury, wage slavery most probably early mortality. Working in the UK has become a race to the bottom, the lowest common denominator where dreams and ambitions are replaced with minimum wage and soundbites that obscure reality.

    Hence the crux of the story, medical students seeing that the emperor has no clothes, no clue and no cahoonas.

    Why would anyone in their right mind excel at school, gain A stars and A grades, overcome 5 gruelling years of toil and sweat, simply to be on what amounts to minimum wage ( 7 pounds and 89 pence per hour as a junior doctor )???

    It used to be that the lack of high pay was made up in other ways in the health service-- prestige, kudos, respect, congeniality longer!!!!

    Todays graduates are saddled with debt, have poorer career prospects, will have to contribute more to a pension scheme that will see them working until their 70s, whilst their predecessors will live a life of luxury of their efforts! They will have less family stability as well as regional jobs are no longer in vogue and a faceless bureaucrat can send you to Britain's nether regions to partake in scut work and servitude.

    Any student reading this will be well aware of what the world has to offer as there are many online forums and support groups dedicated to revealing the truth and not the propaganda excreted by those in power.

    They are increasingly giving authority a two fingered salute and taking back control of their lives and who can blame them??????????????????

    Its only going to get worse, denial is not a river in Egypt

    ditch the country comrades!!!!


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  • Hear,hear.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Totally understand the young ones want something bigger , something more employee-friendly and paying respect
    ''Once I was seven years old my mama told me
    Go make yourself some friends or you'll be lonely
    Once I was seven years old
    It was a big big world, but we thought we were bigger
    Pushing each other to the limits, we were learning quicker.........''

    From Seven Years Lukas Graham

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  • These are bright people. It would be a bigger story if they weren't steering away from the sh1tstorm NHS. Run, and don't look back.

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  • Very interesting.It may soon become that a medical degree is a very valued GENERAL qualification. It says that you are bright, that you learn quickly, that you are people and team orientated and good at weighing complex decisions and are resilient. All these qualities are highly sort after in other well paid areas of work. It could be that a medical degree becomes like an Oxbridge first- the key that opens so many varied doors and as such sought after for this end in itself.

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