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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

    What a stuck up bunch of prigs. Confirming to stereotype, and why the particular interest in Oxford? No better at being Drs than anybody else. We don’t need this branding bullshite in medicine. Ever met anyone who went to oxford who didn’t let you know within a week of knowing them?

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  • AlanAlmond

    Conforming not confirming ..this autocorrect was likly designed by one of these Oxford twits

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  • Agree with utter fool,why the interest in Oxford?

    The issue is the ability to see patients in clinical practice,large numbers of patients,very very large numbers.

    I suspect if you picked any area of medicine e.g. surgery or diabetes these graduates would be in the labs and the libraries not the wards and the theatres.

    No-one ask how many living rooms the winner of the Turner prize has decorated.

    When was the last time you bought a CD by the local professor of music.

    In almost all walks of life the difference between academia and practice is acknowledged.

    However,British GP training has never been able to get it's head around this,hence the relentless destruction of GP.

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  • Somebody just wants to advertise Oxford. The 'elite' send their kids to Oxford and Eton and then you get this sort of article trying to highlight 'Oxford' so people think of it as something posh. The truth is you have jokers heading the country and even NHS Managers who are there just because they have a pedigree. And they do get there because of limelight from articles like this one and the stereotype created. Overall, a general study would have been more representative of reality on the ground.

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  • GP is the last bastion for those wishing to have some control over their working lives in the NHS, diminished as that freedom is compared to the past. And we earn more. Oxford students perhaps not so smart as they think they are?

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  • One should not generalise but the amount of surgical cock ups and can't dos I have seen coming from Oxford. Publishing papers does not equate to good surgical outcomes.

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  • National Hopeless Service

    My son graduates this Saturday from Oxford. He is neither from an elite background, a stuck up prig, a twit or Eton educated. The contents of most of the replies to this article puts GPs to shame and may be a further reflection why some people choose not to be GPs.

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  • Find me a medical school anywhere in the UK where the majority of students think highly of General Practice and I will let you ride my unicorn.

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  • You can’t blame them for voting with their feet can you? What they see is a (currently) rubbish for relatively poor pay and huge stress and they don’t want to be part of it.

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  • AlanAlmond

    Doctor McDoctor Face | GP Partner/Principal13 Jul 2018 4:38pm
    I’m sorry Doctor McDoctor Face, the fact your son is graduating from Oxford makes diddly squat difference to the fact that going to oxford has absolutely nothing to do with the ability to be a good GP - nothing. A Dr from Oxford is no more likly to be an able GP than one from Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester or London. If you can’t see that singling out the university of Oxford as some kind of ‘special case’ isn’t both odd and offensive to everyone else then your either a fool , blinded by parental love or both. And why is it they Oxford students are so averse to general practice , can you explain that please , forgive me for infering a degree of ‘priggary’ but I think that’s as good a guess as any, your son obviously excluded.

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