(2003), "UK. Careers advice for doctors and medical students", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 16 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijhcqa.2003.06216fab.006Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited
UK. Careers advice for doctors and medical students
Careers advice for doctors and medical students
Keywords: Medical careers, Doctors, Career advice, Medical training
A new report, Signposting Medical Careers, highlights gaps in the ways in which medical students, junior doctors and career grade doctors get the information they need to make vital career choices. Its key finding is that existing provision of career advice for the medical profession is inadequate.
In the past, doctors had to choose between hospital work and general practice but there are now over 70 specialties and a huge range of options, making effective careers guidance essential. As doctors' training progresses it becomes increasingly difficult for them to change direction, so it is essential that they make the right choices from the outset. However, the report shows that medical students are not always encouraged to consider their career options and only 5% of them take up the limited opportunities for advice that are available. Most doctors report that they have never received any guidance or counselling, and the advice they receive is often ad hoc and informal. A survey (Jackson, C., Ball, J.E., Hirsh, W. and Kidd, J.M. (2002), Informing choices: the need for career advice in medical training. The National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling) found that 55 per cent of a sample of doctors and medical students were either quite dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the career advice and guidance they had received. The report says that to improve the professional lives of doctors, it is essential that the issue of career advice provision is addressed.
The report recommends that:
career advice for medical students, doctors in training and career grade doctors should be given a higher profile with a coordinated and transparent approach;
detailed career information should be accessible to the medical profession, with information being disseminated using a variety of methods through sources such as medical schools, postgraduate deans, directors of postgraduate general practice education and medical royal colleges;
whilst informal advice from seniors and peers is an accepted practice of career advice provision in the medical profession, access to impartial career advice from appropriately trained professionals is equally important;
appropriate opportunities and support should be given to career advisers to allow them to develop their skills and knowledge in order to fulfil their role effectively and opportunities for training and education in providing career advice should be given to doctors who are expected to deliver such advice;
efforts to increase the awareness of the opportunities for career advice available to the medical profession should be made;
further research is needed to test the effectiveness of the various methods of delivering career advice;
research is needed to examine the low uptake of available career advice by medical students; and
career choice should be a personal decision, and individuals should be equipped with the tools to manage their own careers. This could be incorporated into the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum and be considered as part of a doctor's overall continuing professional development, in order to maintain and update their career management skills.
Commenting on the report, Professor Peter Dangerfield, chairman of the BMA's Board of Medical Education said: "Given our current problems with recruitment and retention, it is essential that doctors sustain a long term interest in their chosen field. For them to be able to make the right career choices, they need access to the right careers advice."
Further details: The report, Sign-posting Medical Careers for Doctors, British Medical Association Board of Medical Education June 2003, can be read or downloaded from the BMA Web site at: http://www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/Content/signposting