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Quality of life driving young GPs’ emigration

The ICGP research outlines trends in the current status and future work intentions of recent GP graduates in Ireland.

The number of graduates who had already emigrated increased over the survey years, accounting for 16.9 per cent in 2014, 17.4 per cent in 2015, and 19.2 per cent in 2017 survey.

The majority of doctors who emigrated did so in the first two years after graduation (74.7 per cent). ‘Quality of life’ became the most frequent reason for emigration over the survey years, accounting for 32 per cent in the 2017 survey.

Australia and Canada were found to be the commonest destinations of those who emigrated, with Canada becoming more popular in recent years, possibly due to tightening Australian immigration laws.

In the 2014 survey, 47.3 per cent of graduates stated that they intend to work part-time in five years; this rose to 51.2 per cent in 2015, reaching 60 per cent in 2017. Female participants were more than twice as likely to plan to work part-time in five years compared to their male colleagues, across all three surveys.

Additionally, a high number of responders (>50 per cent in both the 2015 and 2017 survey) are more interested in being purely a clinician and do not desire senior management roles and the responsibility for practice infrastructure.

The study concludes that “given the numbers of mostly full-time GPs due to retire and the apparent insufficient replacement ratios by a large proportion of part-time GPs, it is clear that government policy must change in terms of GP training and their infrastructural procurement policy”.

It adds: “The move of young Irish GPs abroad supports evidence that, in order to address GP retention, issues such as number of GPs per capita and working hours are critical factors. A policy to retain young GPs, particularly in the first two years after graduation, should be considered. However, this is only one part of the equation; further research is needed in the context of retention and returning policies for more mature GPs.”

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