Objective: To determine whether graduate entry to medical school, taking an intercalated degree during medical school, and age at entry to medical school are related to choice of eventual career.
Design: Postal questionnaires.
Setting: United Kingdom (UK).
Subjects: All doctors who qualified in the UK in 1993 or 1996.
Results: We analysed whether graduate status and age on entry to medical school, and taking an intercalated degree during medical school, were predictors of the choice of eventual career, adjusting for differences by sex, year of qualification and medical school. General practice was the career choice of 27.0% (79/293) of graduate entrants and 21.6% (1095/5073) of non-graduate entrants, a difference of borderline significance (P=0.04). Of the non-graduate entrants, general practice was the career choice of 15.3% (319/2081) of doctors who took an intercalated degree and 25.9% (776/2992) of doctors who did not (P < 0.001). Within the hospital specialties, those who took an intercalated degree were more likely than others to choose the hospital medical specialties or pathology. Age alone was not a predictor for choice of any area of practice.
Conclusions: There was no evidence of an association between age at entry to medical school and choice of eventual career. Graduates at entry to medical school were a little more likely than non-graduates to choose general practice but the relationship was not a strong one. In these respects, changing the entry profile of medical students is unlikely to result in major shifts of career choice towards general practice.