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Medical students at Oxford University still deterred from GP career, finds study

Medical students at the University of Oxford are still being put off pursuing a career in general practice, according to a new study.

Researchers analysed the attitudes of University of Oxford medical students towards their future careers and general practice, and found that nearly two thirds viewed GPs as having a lower status than hospital specialties.

Half of the students reported the medical school culture had ‘negatively influenced’ their perception of general practice.

Less than one in five said community-based working was important to them and 'many' said general practice 'as currently structured may not be satisfying or fulfilling because of high workload, financial pressures and externally imposed directives'.

The researchers also highlighted specific comments made by respondents, including one who said their lecturer had told them ‘we’re not training you to become GPs’.

Meanwhile, another respondent noted ‘most medical students and Oxford Medical School consultants are rather dismissive about “GP land” ’.

The research comes after previous figures, from between 2012 and 2014, showed that less than one in six University of Oxford medical graduates applied to become a GP.

In the latest study, academics invited final and penultimate year students in 2016 to complete a survey that included questions relating to career choices, factors of importance when choosing a career, and attitudes towards general practice.

A total of 280 (89%) responded, with their results analysed thematically.

The paper, published in BMC Medical Education this month, reported: ‘Fewer than 20% of respondents agreed that community-based working was important to them and many - often citing particular GPs they had observed - felt that general practice as currently structured may not be satisfying or fulfilling because of high workload, financial pressures and externally imposed directives.

‘63% perceived GPs to have lower status than hospital specialties and 49% thought the overall culture of their medical school had negatively influenced their views towards general practice.'

It added: ‘Some respondents considered that general practice would not be intellectually challenging or compatible with a research career; some appeared to have had limited exposure to academic primary care.’

Last year the RCGP revealed that more than three quarters of medical students have reported hearing negative comments about general practice from their trainers, despite calls from Health Education England for more GP trainers in medical schools to set a good example.

Readers' comments (12)

  • AlanAlmond

    On the other hand why shouldn’t someone undertake research into the career preferences of a particular university’s medical students, be that oxford or anywhere else? What we actually need is a comparison with the preferences of other universities to see if there is any difference before we rush to gob off. Many medical students are put off general practice, not just oxford. Maybe the figuers are roughly the same in every other institution. This article is a bit pointless without. A little less of the reflex chip on the shoulder carping from utter fools is probably in order. Apologies to oxford grads and students, I’ve nothing against you at all, your generally a pretty nice bunch. I’ve posted too much already and really should shut up.

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  • Different universities have always had different percentages goibg un to GP. Oxford and Cambridge have always been lower than average. Unsurprising really seeing some of the comments above. Nothing wrong with independent schools and actually quite a lot of doctors sons at Eton. Yes Oxbridge is vv competitive and what is wrong with that.

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