Aim To identify influencing factors for a graduating doctor considering a career in paediatrics.
Methods An online structured questionnaire was distributed using SurveyMonkey to all graduating doctors at Cardiff, Bristol and Glasgow Schools' of Medicine. Respondents were asked to provide demographic information, as well as their ideal career choice followed by the specialty they realistically see themselves pursuing. Following this, respondents rated 19 career influences using a 5-point Likert scale. Data was analysed using non-parametric tests.
Results The response rate was 31% (233/751) with 60.5% from Cardiff, 23.6% from Glasgow and 15.5% from Bristol. 81.5% (n=190) were undergraduates and 63.1% (n=147) were female. Mann-Whitney tests were employed to characterise the differing career influences between males and females. Males were more influenced than females by public prestige (p=0.01), professional prestige (p=0.01) and research opportunities (p=0.03), whereas factors more influential for females were patient relationships (p=<0.001), working hours (p=<0.001), job stress (p=0.01) and lifestyle (p=<0.001). 19.8% (n=46) stated they would ideally like a career in paediatrics, with only 6.9% (n=16) feeling they would realistically end up fulfilling this ambition. Of those 30 students who felt an alternative career was more likely, 28/30 felt they would realistically become GPs. Those who were confident of an eventual career in paediatrics were significantly less influenced by working hours (p=0.002), lifestyle (p=0.02), financial incentives (p=0.006) and training length (p=0.001).
Conclusion These findings highlight the importance of engaging with the future paediatric workforce, especially for ensuring high quality workforce planning. The apparent move towards specialties that allow a better work-life balance means that those responsible for maintaining adequate recruitment into paediatrics will need to address the priorities of tomorrow's doctors.