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BLOG: Why do some medical schools produce more General Practitioners than others?

A blog post by Simon Thornton, GP registrar and academic clinical fellow at the Centre for Academic Primary Care

3 June 2015

As someone who has come into general practice via another specialty, I am particularly interested in what leads people to choose a career in primary care, and how we might be able to help improve recruitment.

There are lots of factors that influence people to choose a career in general practice. These include certain personality traits, such as scoring more highly on measures of empathy, being a graduate entry medic, exposure to general practice at an undergraduate level, and the attitudes of other healthcare professionals towards general practice. What I find most interesting is that there is a huge influence depending on which medical school you went to.

In 2012, of all doctors finishing their foundation programme training, only 11% of Cambridge graduates entered primary care training compared to 38.5% of Keele graduates.

Does this difference reflect the different entry characteristics and aspirations of students (nature), or does it reflect how they are moulded by their undergraduate experiences (nurture)? Are medical students truly undifferentiated, toti-potent ‘stem doctors’ or do they already exhibit strong career preferences at an early stage as some have suggested?

Well – evidence suggests that the first year student cohort is fairly homogenous in terms of their career aspirations. So this begs the question – what does one medical school do to its students that is so different from another?

To read the whole blog post, please visit our blog site.

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