Do primary care placements influence career choice: What is the evidence?

Educ Prim Care. 2018 Mar;29(2):64-67. doi: 10.1080/14739879.2018.1427003. Epub 2018 Jan 25.


Background: The NHS is struggling with GP recruitment. The Health Education England (HEE) Wass Report (By Choice not by Chance), among its recommendations to boost GP numbers, highlighted undergraduate (UG) GP placement experience as an important influence on future career choice. Aim To explore the UG influences on GP career choice.

Methods: Two junior doctors produced a pragmatic rapid appraisal of the literature on the UG influences on GP career choice for the Wass Report. The search strategy was supported by librarians and focused on rapidly accessing and summarising relevant literature. Databases searched, including Medline, EMBASE, HMIC & grey literature, revealed 294 items. Data extraction and synthesis was pragmatic.

Results: The international evidence suggests that UG GP experience can positively influence students towards a primary care career. Longitudinal placements are more influential than traditional blocks. UK literature is limited, but there are consistencies with the international evidence. The relevant studies identified are observational with risk of bias, but this is unavoidable within this research context.

Discussion: The implications of these results for medical school curricula are discussed with particular reference to Government plans to expand medical student numbers and establish new medical schools with explicit aims to produce more GPs.

Keywords: Undergraduate; general practice; longitudinal clerkship; medical students; placement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Career Choice*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Humans
  • Physicians, Primary Care*
  • Students, Medical / psychology