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What factors are critical to attracting NHS foundation doctors into specialty or core training? A discrete choice experiment

12 Mar 2018

Objectives

Multiple personal and work-related factors influence medical trainees’ career decision-making. The relative value of these diverse factors is under-researched, yet this intelligence is crucially important for informing medical workforce planning and retention and recruitment policies. Our aim was to investigate the relative value of UK doctors’ preferences for different training post characteristics during the time period when they either apply for specialty or core training or take time out.

Methods

We developed a discrete choice experiment (DCE) specifically for this population. The DCE was distributed to all Foundation Programme Year 2 (F2) doctors across Scotland as part of the National Career Destination Survey in June 2016. The main outcome measure was the monetary value of training post characteristics, based on willingness to forgo additional potential income and willingness to accept extra income for a change in each job characteristic calculated from regression coefficients.

Results

677/798 F2 doctors provided usable DCE responses. Location was the most influential characteristic of a training position, followed closely by supportive culture and then working conditions. F2 doctors would need to be compensated by an additional 45.75% above potential earnings to move from a post in a desirable location to one in an undesirable location. Doctors who applied for a training post placed less value on supportive culture and excellent working conditions than those who did not apply. Male F2s valued location and a supportive culture less than female F2s.

Conclusion

This is the first study focusing on the career decision-making of UK doctors at a critical careers decision-making point. Both location and specific job-related attributes are highly valued by F2 doctors when deciding their future. This intelligence can inform workforce policy to focus their efforts in terms of making training posts attractive to this group of doctors to enhance recruitment and retention.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open

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