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Reasons for choosing to specialise in psychiatry: differences between core psychiatry trainees and consultant psychiatrists

  • Melissa Denman (a1), Femi Oyebode (a1) (a2) and Jayne Greening (a2)
Abstract
Aims and method

This questionnaire study aimed to investigate the reasons for choosing to specialise in psychiatry in a sample of consultant psychiatrists and core trainee psychiatrists from within the West Midlands.

Results

Five reasons were significantly different between the core trainees and consultant psychiatrists. ‘Emphasis on the patient as a whole’ was identified as the most important reason for choosing to specialise for both core trainees and consultants. Six additional reasons were shared within the top ten ‘very important’ reasons, although their actual ranking varies.

Clinical implications

Some of the reasons for choosing to specialise in psychiatry were shown to significantly differ between core trainees and consultants. Numerous key driving factors have remained important over time for both groups, whereas other reasons have been replaced with a shift of importance towards lifestyle and humanitarian factors for core trainees. Consequently, it may be advisable not to use the reasons that consultants gave for choosing psychiatry when thinking about how to attract today's prospective psychiatrists.

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Copyright
This is an open-access article published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence to Melissa Denman (MXD079@bham.ac.uk)
Footnotes
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Declaration of interests

None.

Footnotes
References
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1 Royal College of Psychiatrists. RCPsych Census 2013: Workforce Figures for Consultant and Trust Doctor, Specialty Doctor, Staff Grade, Associate Specialist Psychiatrists. RCPsych, 2013. Available at: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/workinpsychiatry/workforce/census.aspx.
2 Royal College of Psychiatrists. RCPsych Census 2011: Workforce Figures for Consultant and Trust Doctor, Specialty Doctor, Staff Grade, Associate Specialist Psychiatrists. RCPsych, 2011. Available at: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/workinpsychiatry/workforce/census.aspx.
3 Royal College of Psychiatrists. Recruitment Strategy 2011–2016. RCPsych, 2011 (updated 2011). Available at: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/workinpsychiatry/recruitmentstrategy.aspx.
4 Maidment, R, Livingston, G, Katona, M, Whitaker, E, Katona, C. Carry on shrinking: career intentions and attitudes to psychiatry of prospective medical students. Psychiatrist 2003; 27: 30–2.
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  • EISSN: 2056-4708
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Reasons for choosing to specialise in psychiatry: differences between core psychiatry trainees and consultant psychiatrists

  • Melissa Denman (a1), Femi Oyebode (a1) (a2) and Jayne Greening (a2)
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eLetters

Mental Health Officer Status and Recruitment in Psychiatry

Alje C Van Hoorn, CT2 in Liaison Psychiatry, Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust
Adnan Sharaf, ST4 in Old Age Psychiatry, South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust
15 March 2016

Denman et al’s paper (1) was thought-provoking and of vital importance given the current difficulties in recruiting to psychiatry training schemes. However, it is our opinion that the authors made a significant omission in not assessing the effect that Mental Health Officer (MHO) status has had on applications to training schemes.

Certain members of staff who were members of the National Health Service pension scheme before 6 March 1995 were eligible for MHO status (2). This enabled them to take retirement aged 55 with no reduction in pension benefits. MHO status was withdrawn in March 1995.

Financial incentives have become almost a taboo subject, but one which we feel should be revisited. MHO status recognises that, due to the particular stresses in the specialty, early retirement may be desirable or necessary for some doctors. This offered a significant financial and lifestyle boost to those afforded it.

The crisis in recruitment to psychiatry training posts is well described. It is exacerbated by the effect MHO status has on retention of experienced psychiatrists. Retirement aged 55 – instead of 60 or 65 – only worsens the workforce crisis. The recent reduction in lifetime allowance from £1.25 million to £1 million will make it financially unattractive to those with MHO status to carry on working past 55, even if they wished to continue working.

It is highly unlikely that MHO status would ever have been the sole reason to choose psychiatry. However, it formed a significant incentive that directly contributed to the attractiveness of the specialty. It is worth considering what impact its withdrawal is having and comparing the benefits of MHO status to the salary premiums which have been offered in the new junior doctor contracts.

References:

1.Denman M, Oyebode F, Greening J. Reasons for choosing to specialise in psychiatry: differences between core psychiatry trainees and consultant psychiatrists. BJPsych Bull February 2016; 40: 198–23.

2.http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/Documents/Pensions/Mental_Health_Officer_Status_Factsheet.pdf

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Conflict of interest: None Declared

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