Introduction: This study investigated the impact of a Master of Family Medicine degree (via distance education) on GPs' career options, and in particular, whether they were more likely to adopt university positions after the course. A secondary aim was to examine whether those who undertook a research project as part of their Masters took up different career options than Masters graduates who undertook a more clinically orientated course.
Methods: A questionnaire survey was posted to all 192 graduates of the Master of Family Medicine degree. Approximately one fifth of these resided overseas, with the majority in Hong Kong.
Results: The response rate was 68%. Graduates stated that they benefited from the course, particularly in the areas of clinical knowledge and improvement in 'academic' skills. Changes in careers, with increases in non-clinical appointments, did occur after the course for both the Research and Clinical Masters graduates.
Discussion: Responses to the survey indicated that graduates benefited in completing the course and changes in their career direction following graduation. However, whether the Masters course provided new skills to enable career change, or the GPs were in the process of change anyway, cannot be determined with certainty. Further studies, including interviews, are required to establish the impact of a distance education higher degree.
Conclusion: The research output of general practice remains behind that of its specialist colleagues. Higher degrees for GPs might encourage them to undertake more academic pursuits, but the precise relationship still remains uncertain. [Copyright of Medical Teacher is the property of Informa Healthcare . Full article may be available at the publisher's website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01421590701287905]