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BACKGROUND: Concerns continue about recruitment levels of junior doctors into psychiatry in the UK. AIMS: To report career choices for and career progression in psychiatry. METHOD: Postal questionnaire surveys of qualifiers from all UK medical schools in eight qualification years since 1974. RESULTS: Totals of 75% (21,845 out of 28,980) and 74% (17,741 out of 24,044) of doctors responded at one and three years after qualification. One and three years after qualification, 4-5% of doctors chose psychiatry. This has changed very little between 1974 and 2000. Most doctors who chose psychiatry one and three years after qualification were working in psychiatry at year 10. Hours and conditions of work, the doctor's personal assessment of their aptitudes and skills and their experience of the subject as a student influenced long-term career choices for psychiatry. CONCLUSIONS: Greater exposure to psychiatry for clinical students and in junior hospital jobs might improve recruitment.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Psychiatry

Publication Date





158 - 164


Career Choice, Cohort Studies, England, Female, Humans, Male, Medical Staff, Hospital, Psychiatry, Surveys and Questionnaires