Background: There is a worldwide recruitment and retention crisis in general practice. Workforce planning has identified the need to train more general practitioners as an urgent priority. Exposure of medical students to general practice as part of the formal and hidden curriculum, the use of longitudinal integrated clerkships, and positive experiences and role models in general practice are all thought to be contributing factors to doctors choosing careers in general practice.
Aim: The aim of this study was to identify career destinations of medical school graduates in a medical school with an 18-week longitudinal integrated clerkship in general practice.
Design and setting: This study was conducted in a single graduate entry medical school at the University of Limerick, Ireland.
Participants: Medical school alumni 6-8 years after graduation.
Method: A survey of graduating cohorts of the medical school from 2011 to 2013 was conducted through email and telephone.
Results: There were a total of 175 alumni for the period 2011 to 2013. Data was collected on 92% (161/175) through an online survey, follow-up email and telephone interview, and was triangulated with searches of professional registration databases and information from key informants. Between 6 and 8 years after graduation, a total of 43% of alumni were engaged in general practice as a career.
Conclusion: The reform of the delivery of general practice within medical school curricula should be considered by medical schools, curriculum designers and policy-makers as part of an overall strategy to address the recruitment and retention of general practitioners as part of the global healthcare workforce.
Keywords: Career choice; General practice; Medical education; Primary health care; Survey.