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Vascular surgery trainee retention in the UK: how many leave and why? A survey of trainee and Training Programme Directors’ perceptions

  • Atkins, Eleanor1
  • Kandola, Sandhir2
  • Kent, Frances3
  • McBride, Olivia3
  • 1 Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Trust, Norwich, UK , Norwich (United Kingdom)
  • 2 Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospitals NHS Trust, Liverpool, UK , Liverpool (United Kingdom)
  • 3 Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK , Edinburgh (United Kingdom)
Published Article
BMC Medical Education
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Apr 26, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s12909-021-02668-x
Springer Nature


BackgroundIt is currently not known how many trainees leave vascular surgery, and their reasons for doing so are unclear. This paper is the first to publish the number of UK trainees leaving the training programme and interrogates their reasons for doing so.MethodsAn email survey was distributed to current and recent Training Programme Directors (TPDs) to quantify the number of trainees resigning between 2013 and 2019. Trainees resigning a National Training Number (NTN) were surveyed regarding their reasons for doing so.ResultsSince 2013, 23 UK vascular surgery trainees have resigned NTNs, representing 15.4% of the 149 NTNs awarded between 2013 and our analysis. Reasons for leaving, as relayed by TPDs, included availability of an academic career, geography, health and many other reasons classified as “work-life balance” factors. Data from the trainees surveyed also highlighted work-life balance but also identified pressures within the training system and NHS.ConclusionsUK data of this sort has not previously been available. The authors’ primary recommendation is that prospective data collection on trainee retention is carried out, with structured exit interviews with trainees who decide to leave. Our secondary recommendations include improvements to the inter-deanery transfer process and early realistic exposure to vascular surgery for junior doctors to improve trainee retention rates in vascular surgery.

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