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  1. #1
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    Too many doctors?

    This weekend I was chatting to a friend I haven't seen in a while, who - when I mentioned that I was applying for medical school - said something like "Oh, you'll get in - they are crying out for doctors at the moment". Obviously I then had to explain that it is actually quite competitive to get a place and so on, but it made me think: in four or five years time, will there still be such a demand for doctors? It seems that more and more people are applying each year - especially mature students, so does anyone think that this might lead to a surplus of newly qualified doctors in a few years time? I may be completely wrong, but would be interested to hear other people's point of view on this.

    It reminds me of the rapid increase in people doing subjects like Computer Science and IT when I was at uni (1997-2000), many of whom struggled to get jobs in the end because they entered a market saturated with graduates.

    Anyway - just wondered if anyone has any thoughts (may be under the wrong topic, but thought I would ask matures mainly)

    Matt



  2. #2
    Senior Member spk76's Avatar
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    Med student numbers are prescribed by the government, which has complicated ways of predicting the future requirements of the NHS. There is a very real concern that GPs in particular are retiring at a faster rate than new doctor's are coming on stream. In addition to this, something like 10% of qualified doctors are no longer practising within 10 years of graduating. Those are some of the reasons why there has been such a drive to recruit med students, even though competition is still extremely high. Many people think that graduates have the experience and maturity to make an informed decision about their future career and are more likely to stick at it until retirement than some 18 year old with good A levels. This has certainly been born out in Australia and the States.

  3. #3
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    I don't think the comparision with IT holds, as most IT provision is at the mercy of market forces and needs to be justified in that hard light, whereas most docs I guess are employed by NHS as public servants..unless of course they outsource doctors too!

  4. #4
    Junior Member ira222's Avatar
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    I think the fact that it is so hard to gain entrance into MedSchool, despite the apparent lack of doctors shows that the GMC/government are not prepaired to A) jeopardise the quality of doctors by allowing all universities to start their own MBBS program and B) to have an uncontrolled influx of graduates in a discipline that cannot sacrifice a thoroughly carried out education for the current demands of the job market.

    Thus, I wouldn't worry too much about a sudden flood of newly qualified docs, albeit that it would increase my chances of getting one of the soo desired places in MedSchool :mrgreen:
    2nd year MBBS @ RF&UC MS

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the comments - I thought it would be a simpler case of supply and demand, as I guessed there must be an optimum number of doctors that the NHS requires, and I thought there may be a surplus of new doctors. However, you guys seem to know a lot more about what drives the number of /requirement for qualified doctors than I do, which is good to learn about.

    The last thing I need after 4/5 years of getting myself into huge debt, is to struggle to find a job!

  6. #6
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    Also don't forget changes in working practices can only mean that more doctors are needed. For example, the European Working Time Directive, GP and consultant contracts, increase in the number of docs working part time (work-life balance, allowing involvement in academic/research etc pursuits), move towards a more patient centred approach (more time for consultations) and so on.


    Jools

  7. #7
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    There will always be a need for doctors, regardless of how much medicine technology advances. Furthermore, the problem is not people applying, but how many places are actually available for medical students. I believe now that junior doctors are to be restricted to 48 hours/week to bring UK hours into line with Europe and this can only means that more doctors will be required. I'm not sure how more medical places can be made available, but that has to be the solution to produce more home-grown doctors in the future.

  8. #8
    Technical Administrator Fizzwizz's Avatar
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    The main issue is one of money ... we may need doctors but we cant afford them.
    This was one of the motives behind practising/prescribing nurses. It is an attempt to lower the cost of medical care by replacing doctors with cheaper to train nurses. There is huge debate, however, as to whether prescribing nurses are better (financial) value than doctors. Personally I can see arguements for both sides. You should read some of the comments I read recently on the BMJ web site (dunno the link) some of the comments made by some doctors were very bigotted ... it made amusing reading 8)

  9. #9
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    Hey there Fizzwizz

    You make some perfectly valid points about the roles of prescribing nurses, indeed as a practising pharmacist, I can tell you that prescribing pharmacists are also something you will see in the not-too-distant future, and it is an option I would consider if I can't get on to a medicine course. However, prescribing nurses/pharmacists can only carry out so much of a doctor's workload and ultimately need from time to time a physician's opinion before starting/continuing therapy.
    I think if the two options, more prescribing/practising nurses/pharmacists and more doctors can be harmonised, then that would be to everyone's benefit. But as you rightly point out, it is all about money at the end of the day.

  10. #10
    Technical Administrator Fizzwizz's Avatar
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    Yes ... It's important to realise that prescribing nurses/pharmacists etc aren't replacing doctors .. they are just taking over some of the duties that can be covered by their own skillsets (with some additional training)

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