Background: Research exploring the experiences of trainee doctors in remote and rural locations is scarce. Our aim was to gain an understanding of the experiences and perceptions of Foundation Programme (FP) doctors training in placements in remote and rural areas of the north of Scotland. Methods: FP doctors training in remote and rural areas in Scotland took part in a qualitative study (focus groups and individual interviews) exploring their training experiences and career plans. To make sense of a potential multitude of factors, we selected social cognitive careers theory (SCCT) to underpin data collection and analysis. Results: A total of 20 trainees participated. Using data-driven analysis, three themes relevant to the SCCT emerged. These are the educational experience (e.g., opportunities to develop skills, greater responsibility), geographical isolation factors (e.g., the impact of staff shortages, poor accommodation, travel) and personal factors (e.g., social isolation, attitudes towards the experience). Conclusion: Many factors impact on trainees' experience of learning and living in remote and rural medicine (R&R) environments. These experiences can be very positive for some individuals but factors external to the educational environment influence the perception of the overall experience. SCCT helps clarify the interaction between individual and contextual factors in career decision making.
Our thanks to Mari Todd, Fiona French and Judy Wakeling, NES, for their help with data collection. Our thanks also to Dr Murray Lough, NES, for supporting this research, and to the doctors in training who took part in the study. This work was
funded by a grant from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) Subject Centre for Medical, Dental and Veterinary Medicine (MEDEV).