INTRODUCTION: Knowledge about allocation of doctors into postgraduate training programmes is essential in terms of workforce planning, transparency and equity issues. However, this is a rarely examined topic. To address this gap in the literature, the current study examines the relationships between applicants' sociodemographic characteristics and outcomes on the UK Foundation Training selection process.
METHODS: A longitudinal, cohort study of trainees who applied for the first stage of UK postgraduate medical training in 2013-2014. We used UK Medical Education Database (UKMED) to access linked data from different sources, including medical school admissions, assessments and postgraduate training. Multivariable ordinal regression analyses were used to predict the odds of applicants being allocated to their preferred foundation schools.
RESULTS: Applicants allocated to their first-choice foundation school scored on average a quarter of an SD above the average of all applicants in the sample. After adjusting for Foundation Training application score, no statistically significant effects were observed for gender, socioeconomic status (as determined by income support) or whether applicants entered medical school as graduates or not. Ethnicity and place of medical qualification were strong predictors of allocation to preferred foundation school. Applicants who graduated from medical schools in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were 1.17 times, 3.33 times and 12.64 times (respectively), the odds of applicants who graduated from a medical school in England to be allocated to a foundation school of their choice.
CONCLUSIONS: The data provide supportive evidence for the fairness of the allocation process but highlight some interesting findings relating to 'push-pull' factors in medical careers decision-making. These findings should be considered when designing postgraduate training policy.