Exodus? The training paths and plans of postgraduate medical trainees, under the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

D. Bennett*, T. Dornan, C. Bergin, M. Horgan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In 2006, the Buttimer report highlighted the paucity of demographic data on those applying for and entering postgraduate medical education and training (PGMET) in Ireland. Today, concerns that there is an "exodus" of graduates of Irish medical schools are at the forefront of national discussion, however, published data on PGMET remains inadequate. The objectives of this study were to collate existing data relating to trainees and training programmes at three stages of training and to examine the career plans of junior trainees. Data from application forms for training programmes, commencing July 2012, under the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (n = 870), were integrated with data from other existing sources. Candidates entering basic specialist training were surveyed with regard to career plans. Descriptive and comparative analysis was performed in SPSS version 18. Graduates of Irish medical schools made up over 70 % of appointees. Over 80 % of BST trainees aspired to work as consultants in Ireland, but 92.5 % planned to spend time working abroad (response rate 77 %). Decisions to leave the Irish system were linked to lifestyle, but also to failure to be appointed to higher specialist training. Significant numbers of trainees return to Ireland after a period abroad. The trainee "exodus" is more complex than is often portrayed. The desire to spend time working outside Ireland must be accounted for in workforce planning and configuration of training programmes. Expansion of HST is a potential solution to reduce the numbers of graduates leaving Ireland post-BST.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-248
JournalIrish Journal of Medical Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Medical education
  • Postgraduate training
  • Doctor migration
  • Workforce planning
  • Medical careers

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