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Nearly 1 in 2 Junior Doctors Are Considering Leaving Their Profession, Medscape UK Report Finds

  • A survey of 1,012 UK doctors has found that nearly half of junior doctors intend to pursue non-clinical careers
  • The top reason (37%) is burnout, but this is not directly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Almost 3 in 10 respondents (29%) mentioned that they would like to make a career change, with female doctors more likely report this than male doctors (36% vs 25%)

LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new survey, conducted by Medscape UK, reveals that around 1 in 2 junior doctors (45%), 1 in 3 GPs (36%), and 1 in 4 (25%) specialty doctors were considering leaving medicine to pursue an alternative career path outside of their clinical profession. Younger doctors – those under 45 – were more likely to be considering a career change than the over 45s (34% vs 27%).

“This research has uncovered some concerning realities. Given the current staffing crisis and the ongoing pressure on medical professionals to work considerably extended hours with less staff in high-pressure environments, it is understandable yet alarming that so many of our junior doctors are considering leaving the profession altogether,” commented Vanessa Sibbald, Managing Editor at Medscape UK. “It is also worrying that over a third of doctors believe their side gigs are more fulfilling than their primary role, and GPs are much less satisfied with their job as a clinician compared to specialist doctors. Our findings underscore the urgency to address the current working conditions of UK doctors so they can continue to provide an invaluable service to our healthcare system.”

Are the pressures too much?

Of the 1,012 UK doctors surveyed, more than 1 in 3 (37%) cited ‘burnout’ – not tied to the COVID-19 pandemic – as the most common reason for wanting to leave medicine and pursue a non-clinical career. Of note, GPs were more than three times more likely to report burnout as the main reason for waving goodbye to their profession than specialty doctors (16% vs 5%). When describing the timeframe for making the switch, 28% hoped to make this switch within a year, and a further 30% anticipate this change to happen within 2-3 years. These short timescales for pursuing non-clinical careers suggest that the current pressures of working as a doctor in the UK, in both a GP and hospital setting, are currently way too high.

When asked about the alternative career choices they would consider, the following professions were cited:

  • Healthcare business companies (33%)
  • Education/teaching (32%)
  • Pharmaceutical company work (22%)
  • Writing (20%)
  • Technology (17%)
  • Law (9%)

Specifically, for GPs and speciality doctors, the most popular choices were education/teaching (35% and 29%, respectively) and healthcare business companies (35% and 31%, respectively).

Engaging in ‘side gigs’

The same report found that 7 in 10 (70%) doctors were already engaging in ‘side gigs’ alongside their primary job as a clinician, with around the same number of GPs as speciality doctors involved in these endeavours (29% and 34%, respectively). When questioned about how fulfilling their side gigs are compared to working as a doctor, more GPs than speciality doctors felt that their side gigs were more fulfilling than their primary role (55% vs 34%).

Despite just over half (55%) of doctors feeling ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their primary role as a clinician, only 30% of GPs reported this compared to 62% of speciality doctors.

Pursuing a medical career – was it worth the investment?

Notably, 1 in 3 doctors (34%) felt no guilt or regret about their investment in time and money on their medical education when asked about moving into a non-clinical career; this sentiment was felt more by the 45 and overs (43%) than under-45s (20%). However, 1 in 5 (21%) felt the opposite sentiment with a lot of guilt or regret; female doctors and the under-45s expressed this around twice as much as male doctors and 45 and overs.

For more findings, view the full report on Medscape:

About Medscape UK doctors’ side gigs report 2022

Medscape UK conducted a report based on a survey of 1,012 practising UK Medscape member doctors of which 518 either had a side gig (n=308) or were considering a non-clinical career (n=298). The demographics of the respondents are broken down as follows:

  • Male: 61%
  • Female: 36%
  • Prefer to self-describe: 3%

The recruitment period for conducting this survey was from 22nd February to 31st May 2022.

About Medscape

Medscape is the leading source of clinical news, health information, and point-of-care tools for healthcare professionals. Medscape offers specialists, primary care doctors, and other health professionals the most robust and integrated medical information and educational tools. Medscape Education ( is the leading destination for continuous professional development, consisting of more than 30 specialty-focused destinations offering thousands of free C.M.E. and C.E. courses and other educational programs for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.


For more information or to connect with Medscape medical experts, contact:

Patricia Garrison
Phone: +1 212-624-3885
Mobile: +1 347-407-2568

Arian Vahidansari
Health Unlimited
Phone: +44 (0)741 512 5031

Editor Details

  • Company:
    • Businesswire
Last Updated: 09-Aug-2022