There is no evidence that time spent in general practice as a UK medical student correlates with recruitment to the GP workforce. In fact, the study by Harding et al shows that the correlation is in the opposite direction.1 As Harding et al point out, there was a substantial increase in the proportion of medical school training spent in general practice between 1980 and 2002. Although they document a more recent decline, the current proportions of medical school curricula allocated to general practice are 4–5 times greater than they were in 1980. The UK Medical Careers Research Group reported that proportions of UK graduates entering general practice from cohorts qualifying in the 1970s and early 80s had ranged between 40–45%: among 1983 graduates the proportion working in general practice was 42.7% 10 years after qualification.2 The current dire recruitment figures show that the proportion choosing general practice is less than half what it was in the 1970s and 80s, when there was effectively no general practice in the curriculum.
It would be absurd to suggest that greater exposure to general practice in medical school caused the decline in proportion of graduates choosing the specialty, but it is no more absurd than claiming that further increasing the proportion of undergraduate curriculum time in general practice will help attract 50% of graduates into general practice. Only significant changes to the rewards and opportunities in primary care can do that.
- © British Journal of General Practice 2015