Does it matter that medical graduates don't get jobs as doctors?

May 02, 2008

In 2007, 1300 UK medical graduates were unable to secure training places, and this shortfall looks set to be repeated this year. But is this a betrayal of students’ expectations or is this inevitable if patients are to get the best care? Two experts debate the issue in this week’s BMJ.

Thousands of young people compete fiercely for medical school places each year because they want to work as doctors, not to gain an expensive general education, argues Graham Winyard a former postgraduate dean.

There are serious risks to medical education if medical school simply becomes a route to a range of future employment, he warns.

However, evidence is growing that several thousand UK medical graduates may not be able to pursue a career in medicine. This is due to a “catastrophic failure in government policy on medical migration” that has resulted in a huge surplus of applicants for specialist training, writes Winyard.

Attempts by the Department to Health to give priority to local medical graduates were thwarted by the Home Office’s highly skilled migrants programme that gave skilled people the right to enter the UK job market, he says. Although the entry rules have now been amended, an estimated 10 000–20 000 overseas graduates have already been accepted on to the programme to compete with local graduates.

“Much has been made by the British Medical Association and others of the importance of abiding by the undertakings made to overseas doctors. It is surely just as important that we keep faith with our own medical students and graduates, whose recruitment and training has been on the explicit understanding that they are needed to work as doctors”, he concludes.

But Alan Maynard, from the University of York, argues that the purpose of the National Health Service (NHS) is to deliver patient care that is compassionate and efficient and not to guarantee the employment of medical graduates.

Medical graduates, like all graduates should only be given jobs if they have the suitable knowledge and personal skills appropriate to their employers' and customers' needs, and within the finite resource constraints of the NHS, he states.

He points out that the inefficiency of health care delivery worldwide means that the market for medical graduates is uncertain. Recent changes in skill mix have added to this uncertainty, he says. For example, the emergence of nurse prescribers, nurse practitioners, and the training of nurses to carry out minor surgery, coupled with tighter NHS resource constraints, have the potential to reduce employment opportunities for medical graduates.

In addition, the recent success of negotiations for increasing pay and making medical graduates more expensive to employ, means that employers will gradually look for economy and changed skill mix, Maynard writes.

He concludes that the government’s failure to plan the medical workforce efficiently should not include a responsibility or need to guarantee medical graduates employment.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Improve peer review by making the reviewers better suited to the task

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

London mayor expected to say city will rock 5G by 2020

40 minutes ago

London mayor Boris Johnson this week will pledge to bring 5G to London in the next six years, reported The Telegraph on Monday. The pledge is part of a more extensive plan for London's infrastructure between ...

Illuminating the dark side of the genome

2 hours ago

Almost 50 percent of our genome is made up of highly repetitive DNA, which makes it very difficult to be analysed. In fact, repeats are discarded in most genome-wide studies and thus, insights into this part ...

T-Mobile deal helps Rhapsody hit 2M paying subs

3 hours ago

(AP)—Rhapsody International Inc. said Tuesday its partnership with T-Mobile US Inc. has helped boost its number of paying subscribers to more than 2 million, up from 1.7 million in April.

Recommended for you

Exploring 3-D printing to make organs for transplants

2 hours ago

Printing whole new organs for transplants sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but the real-life budding technology could one day make actual kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs for patients ...

High frequency of potential entrapment gaps in hospital beds

3 hours ago

A survey of beds within a large teaching hospital in Ireland has shown than many of them did not comply with dimensional standards put in place to minimise the risk of entrapment. The report, published online in the journal ...

Key element of CPR missing from guidelines

Jul 29, 2014

Removing the head tilt/chin lift component of rescue breaths from the latest cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) guidelines could be a mistake, according to Queen's University professor Anthony Ho.

Burnout impacts transplant surgeons (w/ Video)

Jul 28, 2014

Despite saving thousands of lives yearly, nearly half of organ transplant surgeons report a low sense of personal accomplishment and 40% feel emotionally exhausted, according to a new national study on transplant surgeon ...

User comments : 0