Introduction In an era of declining interest in internal medicine training it is paramount that Gastroenterology continues to attract the highest quality applicants to ensure the continued growth and success of the specialty clinically and academically. With re-structuring of medical training doctors have to make career choices earlier (<16 months post qualifying) therefore the pressure to consider specialty choice has shifted to an undergraduate level. The variation in UK undergraduate Gastroenterology curriculums between medical schools is unknown, leading to possible large variation in student experience. Our aim was to identify current undergraduate perceptions of gastroenterology and motivations for considering a career in the specialty.
Method This was primarily a qualitative study, with some numerical response, using an online survey to collect data. The total study population were all UK medical students, however contact via medical school emails is restricted. Therefore social media was used to distribute the survey creating a purposive, convenience sample with snowball effect. Peer led research, or ‘research from the inside’, leads to increased response rates and open, honest feedback therefore data was collected by a student. Thematic analysis using NVivo was used to analyse qualitative data.
Results 94 students responded within a 2 week period from 4 UK medical schools, the majority nearing the end of their degree. Only 63% of student–s perceived they had enough exposure to the specialty. 50% of respondents would not even consider a career in Gastroenterology. Main themes regarding a negative perception of the specialty from thematic analysis were: being a medical SpR, long hours, poor core medical training, too much endoscopy and over subspecialisation. Over 1/3 had a perception that the speciality focussed purely on colonic problems. Of those interested in a career in gastroenterology 38% had been inspired by a role model. Primary themes emerging from positive impressions of the speciality were: patient variation, complex cases and close interaction with other specialties.
Conclusion A large proportion of this student sample had access to gastroenterology placements although this was often too sub-specialised leading to a warped view of the specialty. Main deterants from considering a career in gastroenterology were a perception of longer hours and not wanting to be a general medical trainee. Surprisingly students are aware of these issues at a very early stage in their career. The largest positive influencing factors are influential role models and adequate exposure to the variety Gastroenterology has to offer. A UK wide assessment of undergraduate Gastroenterology curriculums paired with comprehensive student evaluation is required in order to increase understanding and prevent recruitment issues.
Disclosure of interest None Declared.
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