Why do general practitioners apply to do an MSc in primary healthcare? A retrospective study

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The aim of this study was to examine the characteristics of general practitioners (GPs) applying to the MSc in Primary Health Care at King's College London and their reasons for doing so, and to see whether these have changed during the last 20 years. Demographic data came from 157 applications submitted between 1986 and 2006. GPs' answers to an open-ended question on the reasons for applying were analysed, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Male sex (66%) and experience of 11.1 (±7.1) years in primary care characterised the GPs. Six reasons for applying were identified: (a) career development; (b) personal development; (c) understanding the context of general practice; (d) to improve job satisfaction; (e) to improve clinical practice; and (f) to be a member of an educational group. Understanding the context of general practice was stated more frequently by GPs in the later cohorts (P < 0.05), who also tended to have had less experience of general practice (8.3 versus 11.1 years, P<0.05). Understanding the developing discipline of general practice is an increasingly important motivation in applying for an MSc, and one that is identified earlier in GPs' careers. The requirement of appraisals and the advent of revalidation may motivate many more GPs to pursue Master's study. Postgraduate educators need to continue to ensure that their programmes reflect the changing landscape of primary care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-110
Number of pages6
JournalEducation for Primary Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Medical education research
  • Postgraduate education
  • Primary care
  • Training


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