Emergency specialists delay career choice

ONLY a quarter of F1 trainees who choose to specialise in emergency medicine end up working in the specialty, according to new research.

Doctors who specified EM as their first choice career were far less likely to be certain about their choice than those who choose other specialties.

A study published in the Emergency Medicine Journal found doctors who pursue EM may turn to it relatively late in their careers. Switches to EM were made, notably, by doctors who previously favoured surgical specialties, hospital physician-led specialties and anaesthetics.

Researchers surveyed doctors who graduated from UK medical schools between 1993 and 2009. Just over 39,000 graduates were sent questionnaires towards the end of the first, third and fifth years after qualification (with a response rate of around 60 per cent) and again seven or 10 years later.

A report in BMJ Careers said that, of the doctors who specified EM as their top career choice one year after graduation, only 11 per cent were “definite” about their choice, although this rose to 57 per cent five years after graduation. And only 24 per cent of those who named EM as their top career choice one year after graduation were working in the specialty seven or 10 years after graduation.

This is in stark contrast to the 89 per cent of doctors who chose general practice five years after graduation who ended up working in the specialty. Similarly, 90 per cent of doctors who chose anaesthetics, 82 per cent who chose other hospital medical specialties and 91 per cent who chose psychiatry were working in those specialties five years post-graduation.

Recruitment into EM was described recently by the College of Emergency Medicine as being in “crisis”. A government task force set up to look at the issue has recommended widening the routes into EM training in a bid to boost the pool of eligible trainees.