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Students warming to GP life

General practice becomes more popular as a career option among students as they pro-gress through medical school, a study has shown.

Just under a third of pre-registration house officers cited general practice as their first choice of career.

The figure compared with 13 per cent of students in year one, according to the survey which followed a group of students throughout their training.

The research team from the University of Aberdeen said the increasing exposure to general practice as students moved through medical training partly explained the finding.

But students also became more aware of the greater lifestyle advantages and part-time opportunities offered in general practice as opposed to a hospital medicine career.

Author Dr Hazel Sinclair, research fellow at the University of Aberdeen department of general practice, said good role models were vital to encourage more to choose it as a career. She said: 'It is vital that opportunities in the undergraduate curriculum are maximised – both in number and also, very importantly, in the quality of contact.'

Those choosing general practice were more likely to be female, have their family home in Scotland, and rate their academic abilities lower.

Students who cited general practice as their least favourite choice said it was because it was dull, routine and lacked variety and challenge.

Dr Sinclair said quality teaching was key to overcoming this perception. 'We need to sell general practice from day one of the undergraduate course through quality teaching – preferably delivered in the general practice setting and maximising patient contact to illustrate the teaching.'

Professor Mayur Lakhani, RCGP chair, said the study confirmed that exposure to general practice was key to attracting students. 'It also highlights we must do more to make students aware of the fabulous careers available in general practice.'

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