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Objective: To study the career destinations, job satisfaction and views of UK-trained senior doctors. Design: Postal questionnaire. Setting: All doctors who qualified from all UK medical schools in 1977; and Department of Health employment data. Main outcome measures: Career destinations of medical qualifiers from 1977. Results: 72% responded to the questionnaire. Using all available evidence, including that on non-responders, 76% of the cohort, comprising 77% of the men and 74% of the women, were working in the NHS 27 years after qualification. Approximately 18% were in medical jobs either overseas or outside the NHS. Of respondents in the NHS, 89% of men and 51% of women had full-time contracts. NHS doctors rated their job satisfaction highly, with a median score of 19.5 on a scale from 5 (very low satisfaction) to 25 (very high satisfaction). Satisfaction with time off for leisure was much lower, with a median score of 4.6 on a scale from 1 (low) to 10 (high). Of those in the NHS, 67% agreed that they worked longer hours than they thought they should; and 40% agreed that their working conditions were satisfactory. Conclusions: 27 years after qualification, the percentage of women who were working in the NHS was similar to that of men. Although these senior doctors had high levels of satisfaction with the content of their jobs, they were not so satisfied with their working hours and working conditions. Our results can be used as benchmarks, against which the career pathways and satisfaction levels of more recently qualified doctors can be compared.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

Publication Date





191 - 200