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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
What could jobless doctors do?
Dan Parkinson
BBC News

Junior doctors protesting
Trainee doctors have protested about the lack of training contracts
The British Medical Association has warned that 10,000 doctors could miss out on training jobs in the NHS. What could they do instead?

It is not what Robert Thomas had in mind. Despite conquering medical exams for seven years his dreams of becoming a top consultant have been replaced by the prospect of the dole queue.

Despite a glittering academic record he says he has not been offered even an interview for one of the all-important NHS training contracts - and time is running out.

'Miserable times'

The contracts enable junior doctors to train to become GPs or consultants and move on to the next stage in their careers.

As the BMA says many of the 10,000 students will not find contracts this year, the question of what to do instead looms large.

I'm thinking of going to work in the City
Robert Thomas
Junior doctor

But analysts say it is unlikely many of them will end up utilising their medical skills in the nation's pubs, factories or burger bars.

"These are miserable, miserable, miserable times for everyone," Dr Thomas said.

"I have a few plan Bs, but to be honest I'm thinking of getting out of the industry altogether.

Doors open

"I'm thinking of going to work in the City. I live in London, my sister works in the financial sector and I've already spoken to recruitment agencies about transferable skills.

"I absolutely love the NHS and desperately want to stay in it but if I don't get a contract I will have to consider all options."

Surgeons at work
Junior doctors need the contracts to become consultants

After years of passing tough exams and many hours spent on the job in hospitals, junior doctors will find many doors wide open to them.

For those wanting to stay in the industry and bide their time before trying to get a training contract next year, work as a locum might appeal.

Others could take well-paid positions with one of the large pharmaceutical companies which are happy to take on medically-trained staff.

The not-unappealing option of finding work as a doctor in Australia and New Zealand, countries willing to take on well-trained medical professionals from the UK, is also available.

'Big gap'

But many young doctors are now so disillusioned with the medical profession they are, like Dr Thomas, considering a career change.

I'm considering retraining and doing something completely different
Caroline Stones
Junior doctor

Caroline Stones, 26, is searching for one of the training contracts after completing a number of six-month placements since her graduation.

She said: "Not getting a contract will leave a very big gap on my CV. I could work as a locum but there will still be the question of why I wasn't training.

"A lot of people in my position have already got jobs in Australia and New Zealand but I'm not prepared to leave the country. I'm settled here.

"I would be happy to leave the industry altogether. I'm considering retraining and doing something completely different.

"I'm sure there are companies which would want to use my people skills and management skills."


Employment agencies said trainee doctors looking to change their careers would have little trouble finding work.

John Herron, of Reed employment agency, said: "What they have shown is they have a certain level of intellect which will be of interest to a number of companies.

"They will have developed communication skills dealing with families and senior doctors. They will also have been accountable for their actions.

"There's no reason to think they won't be able to switch careers easily."

A spokesman for the BMA said it was unclear how many of the 10,000 junior doctors unable to find a contract would not secure an alternative job in the NHS.

NHS jobs

"The NHS has not been able to give a figure for the number of non-trainee positions available," he said.

"We know there will be some trainee doctors who won't find work in the NHS. In the past there have been cases of them claiming unemployment benefit or going to employment agencies."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "If applicants are unsuccessful in getting one of the specialist training posts, then they are able to apply for one of the many other jobs that are available in the NHS.

"We aren't able to quantify how many of these jobs there are because it depends on decisions made at a local level."

A junior doctor speaks out against the training scheme


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