Aim: To report on trends in career choices for radiology among UK medical graduates.
Materials and methods: One and 3 years after graduation, and at longer time intervals thereafter, postal questionnaire surveys were sent to all doctors who graduated from UK medical schools in 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2002. Doctors were asked to specify their choice of long-term career and to identify factors influencing their choice. Employment details were also collected. Results were analysed using chi(2) statistics and binary logistic regression.
Results: Seventy-four percent (24,621/33,412) and 73% (20,720/28,459) of doctors responded 1 and 3 years after graduation. Choices for radiology in year 1 increased significantly over time (1.7% of 1974 graduates to 3.2% of 2002 graduates; chi(2) test for trend=15.3, p<0.001). In particular, there has been a steady increase from the cohorts of 1993 onwards. Thirty-eight percent of those who chose radiology in year 1, and 80% who chose radiology in year 3, were still working in radiology 10 years after graduation. Hours and working conditions influenced long-term career choices more for radiology than for other careers.
Conclusions: The proportion of UK trained junior doctors who want to become radiologists has increased in recent years. However, although medical school intake and the numbers making an early choice for radiology have risen, it is unclear whether sufficient UK graduates will be attracted to radiology to fulfil future service requirements from UK trained graduates alone.