The NHS faces a continuing rise in volume and complexity of population health needs, with care moving increasingly from hospital to community. National reviews of medical training and workforce requirements report a critical need for an increase in the NHS GP workforce, and NHS England has now responded with a welcome promise of investment in primary care.1 This may provide funding for GPs, but where will these GPs come from? Medical schools and the Royal College of General Practitioners are working to promote general practice as a career, but the current uptake of GP training is disappointing, with only 17.4% of F2 doctors appointed to GP training in the UK in 2015.2 Health Education England’s GP training recruitment targets for 2016 are likely to be missed.
Many questions must be asked. What explains the wide variations across medical schools in graduates’ choice of general practice as a career (range 7.3–30.0%)?2 Is there a cultural bias against primary care in medical schools? How important is the quantity and quality of undergraduate general practice exposure? Are we taking the wrong approach to selection processes in order to meet the needs of contemporary society?
ADEQUATE FUNDING AND SUPPORT OF STUDENT PLACEMENTS IN GENERAL PRACTICE
Undergraduate experience has a major influence on career choice. Evidence from the UK and abroad shows that undergraduate exposure to general practice has a positive influence on students considering general practice as a career.3 Yet, following a steady increase over the past 20 years, the percentage of teaching in general practice in UK medical schools has plateaued (mean 13%) since 2008 and the average amount of clinical contact in general practice settings has decreased overall.4
Capacity for undergraduate general practice placements is now a serious …