Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Choice and rejection of psychiatry as a career: surveys of UK medical graduates from 1974 to 2009

  • Michael J. Goldacre (a1), Seena Fazel (a2), Fay Smith (a3) and Trevor Lambert (a3)

Abstract

Background

Recruitment of adequate numbers of doctors to psychiatry is difficult.

Aims

To report on career choice for psychiatry, comparing intending psychiatrists with doctors who chose other clinical careers.

Method

Questionnaire studies of all newly qualified doctors from all UK medical schools in 12 qualification years between 1974 and 2009 (33 974 respondent doctors).

Results

One, three and five years after graduation, 4–5% of doctors specified psychiatry as their first choice of future career. This was largely unchanged across the 35 years. Comparing intending psychiatrists with doctors who chose other careers, factors with a greater influence on psychiatrists' choice included their experience of the subject at medical school, self-appraisal of their own skills, and inclinations before medical school. In a substudy of doctors who initially considered but then did not pursue specialty choices, 72% of those who did not pursue psychiatry gave ‘job content’ as their reason compared with 33% of doctors who considered but did not pursue other specialties. Historically, more women than men have chosen psychiatry, but the gap has closed over the past decade.

Conclusions

Junior doctors' views about psychiatry as a possible career range from high levels of enthusiasm to antipathy, and are more polarised than views about other specialties. Shortening of working hours and improvements to working practices in other hospital-based specialties in the UK may have reduced the relative attractiveness of psychiatry to women doctors. The extent to which views of newly qualified doctors about psychiatry can be modified by medical school education, and by greater exposure to psychiatry during student and early postgraduate years, needs investigation.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Choice and rejection of psychiatry as a career: surveys of UK medical graduates from 1974 to 2009
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Choice and rejection of psychiatry as a career: surveys of UK medical graduates from 1974 to 2009
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Choice and rejection of psychiatry as a career: surveys of UK medical graduates from 1974 to 2009
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Royal College of Psychiatrists, This paper accords with the Wellcome Trust Open Access policy and is governed by the licence available athttp://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/Wellcome%20Trust%20licence.pdf

Corresponding author

Professor Michael J. Goldacre, UK Medical Careers Research Group, Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus, Oxford OX3 7LF, UK. Email: michael.goldacre@dph.ox.ac.uk

Footnotes

Hide All

See editorial, pp. 163-165, this issue.

Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
1 Thomas, K, Ellis, A, Konrad, T, Holzer, C, Morrissey, J. County-level estimates of mental health professional shortage in the United States. Psychiatr Serv 2009; 60: 1323–28.
2 Tamaskar, P, McGinnis, RA. Declining student interest in psychiatry. JAMA 2002; 287: 1859.
3 Salsberg, E, Rockey, PH, Rivers, KL, Brotherton, SE, Jackson, GR. US residency training before and after the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. JAMA 2008; 300: 1174–80.
5 Royal College of Psychiatrists. Census 2009: Workforce Figures for Psychiatrists. Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2010 (http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/PDF/2009%20Census.pdf).
6 Goldacre, MJ, Turner, G, Fazel, S, Lambert, T. Career choices for psychiatry; national surveys of graduates of 1974-2000 from UK medical schools. Br J Psychiatry 2005; 186: 158–64.
7 Lambert, TW, Goldacre, MJ, Edwards, C, Parkhouse, J. Career preferences of doctors who qualified in the United Kingdom in 1993 compared with those of doctors qualifying in 1974, 1977, 1980, and 1983. BMJ 1996; 313: 1924.
8 Goldacre, MJ, Davidson, JM, Lambert, TW. Career choices at the end of the pre-registration year of doctors who qualified in the United Kingdom in 1996. Med Educ 1999; 33: 882–9.
9 Goldacre, M, Goldacre, R, Lambert, TW. Doctors who considered but did not pursue specific clinical specialties as careers: questionnaire surveys. J R Soc Med 2012; 105: 166–76.
10 Sierles, FS, Yager, J, Weissman, SH. Recruitment of U.S. medical graduates into psychiatry: reasons for optimism, sources of concern. Acad Psychiatr 2003; 27: 252–9.
11 Taylor, KS, Lambert, TW, Goldacre, MJ. Career progression and destinations, comparing men and women in the NHS: postal questionnaire surveys. BMJ 2009; 338: b1735.
12 Goldacre, MJ, Laxton, L, Lambert, TW. Medical graduates' early career choices of specialty and their eventual specialty destinations: UK prospective cohort studies. BMJ 2010; 340: 19.
13 Eagles, JM, Wilson, S, Murdoch, JM, Brown, T. What impact do undergraduate experiences have upon recruitment into psychiatry? Psychiatr Bull 2007; 31: 70–2.
14 Royal College of Psychiatrists. Revised action plan for the recruitment and retention of psychiatrists. Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2004 (available at http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/workforce.aspx).
15 Collins, J. Foundation for Excellence: An Evaluation of the Foundation Programme. Medical Education England, 2010.
16 Dein, K, Livingston, G, Bench, C. ‘Why did I become a psychiatrist?’: survey of consultant psychiatrists. Psychiatr Bull 2007; 31: 227–30.
17 Malhi, GS, Parker, GB, Parker, K, Kirkby, KC, Boyce, P, Yellowlees, P, et al Shrinking away from psychiatry? A survey of Australian medical students' interest in psychiatry. Aust NZ J Psychiatr 2002; 36: 416–23.
18 Lambert, TW, Turner, G, Fazel, S, Goldacre, M. Reasons why some UK medical graduates who initially choose psychiatry do not pursue it as a long-term career. Psychol Med 2006; 36: 679–84.
19 Rajagopal, S, Rehill, KS, Godfrey, E. Psychiatry as a career choice compared with other specialties: a survey of medical students. Psychiatr Bull 2004; 28: 444–6.
20 Brown, N, Vassilas, CA, Oakley, C. Recruiting psychiatrists - a Sisyphean task? Psychiatr Bull 2009; 33: 390–2.
21 Katschnig, H. Are psychiatrists an endangered species? Observations on internal and external challenges to the profession. World Psychiatry 2010; 9: 21–8.
22 Centre for Workforce Intelligence. Shape of the Medical Workforce: Informing Medical Training Numbers. CFWI, 2011.
23 Fazel, S, Ebmeier, KP. Specialty choice in UK junior doctors: Is psychiatry the least popular specialty for UK and international medical graduates? BMC Med Educ 2009; 9: 77.
24 Craddock, N, Antebi, D, Attenburrow, M-J, Bailey, A, Carson, A, Cowen, P, et al Wake-up call for British psychiatry. Br J Psychiatry 2008; 193: 69.
25 Søndergård, L. Recruitment problems in psychiatry: just a matter of more exposition? Acta Psychiatr Scand 2007; 116: 235237.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Goldacre et al. supplementary material
Supplementary Material

 PDF (521 KB)
521 KB

Choice and rejection of psychiatry as a career: surveys of UK medical graduates from 1974 to 2009

  • Michael J. Goldacre (a1), Seena Fazel (a2), Fay Smith (a3) and Trevor Lambert (a3)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.