Authors: Caroline White
Current doctors are more likely to train and work near where they grew up than previous generations were, indicates research published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
The authors assessed the geographical mobility of more than 31 000 doctors who qualified in the UK between 1974 and 2008, though cohorts that qualified after 2000 were excluded from some comparisons because they had not progressed far enough in their careers for the comparisons to be valid.
The proportion of doctors whose first career post was in the region where they trained was higher among those who qualified in 2000 (78%) than among those who qualified in 1974 (51%). The proportion whose first career post was in the region of their medical school was also higher in the 2000 cohort (50% versus 36%).
Overall, more than a third of doctors (36%) had gone to medical school near their family home, and almost half (48%) undertook specialty training in the same region as their medical school. Once they became hospital consultants or GP partners, a third (34%) settled in the region where they had lived before becoming a medical student.
The researchers said that younger doctors’ career expectations and practice patterns seemed to differ from those of their older colleagues. “Younger generations are more likely to take into account the preferences of their spouses than older generations,” they wrote. They added that greater emphasis in recent years on “work-life balance” may have prompted more doctors to stay close to their parental home.
But they warn that a reluctance to move could be problematic for patients and lead to an inequitable distribution of doctors around the country.
“We are already aware that the equity of distribution of general practitioners in England has fallen since 2002,” they wrote. “Reduced geographical mobility may not be sustainable: doctors have to go where the jobs are.”