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Objectives: To report the career destinations, views and future plans of a cohort of senior doctors who qualified in the 1980s. Methods: Postal questionnaire survey of all doctors who qualified from all UK medical schools in 1988. Results: The response rate was 69%.We estimated that 81% of the total cohort was working in the NHS, 16 years after qualification; and that at least 94% of graduates who, when students, were from UK homes, were working in medicine. Of NHS doctors, 30% worked part-time. NHS doctors rated their job satisfaction highly (median score 19.9, scale 5-25) but were less satisfied with the amount of leisure time available to them (median score 5.4, scale 1-10). NHS doctors were very positive about their careers, but were less positive about working hours and some other aspects of the NHS.Women were more positive than men about working conditions; general practitioners were more positive than hospital doctors. Twenty-five percent reported unmet needs for further training or career-related advice, particularly about career development. Twenty-nine percent intended to reduce their hours in future, while 6%, mainly part-time women, planned to increase their hours. Overall, 10% of NHS doctors planned to do more service work in future and 24% planned to do less; among part-time women, 18% planned to do more and only 14% less. Conclusions: These NHS doctors, now in their 40s, had a high level of satisfaction with their jobs and their careers but were less satisfied with some other aspects of their working environment. A substantial percentage had expectations about future career development and change.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

Publication Date





21 - 30