Trainee doctors opt for GP jobs over stressful hospital posts

Growing numbers of trainee doctors are opting for a career in general practice rather than in hospitals because it is perceived to be less stressful and offer greater opportunities to work flexibly or part-time, according to a survey.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has been following a cohort of medical graduates since 1995, and its latest survey shows a generation that is looking for better work-life balance and less stress.

Almost three-quarters of the 490 doctors surveyed were either working part-time (25 per cent) or would like to do so in the future (45 per cent).

The flexibility of general practice was the main reason for a sharp rise in the numbers choosing to become family doctors.

Almost half (46 per cent) of the GPs surveyed were working less than full-time, compared with less than 10 per cent of the hospital doctors.

The number already working as GPs had increased from less than a quarter in 2001 to more than a third in 2003.

The proportion planning to enter general practice had risen from 18 per cent at graduation, to more than 34 per cent last year.

Dr Jo Hilborne, deputy chairman of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, said the results highlighted the need for better work-life balance for all doctors.

“Working in a hospital is often very demanding, and balancing responsibility to patients with the needs of a family can be stressful. Given the changing expectations of doctors, hospitals are going to have significant staffing problems if they don’t extend opportunities to work flexibly,” she said.

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