Many individual and job-related factors are known to influence medical careers decision making. Medical trainees' (residents) views of which characteristics of a training post are important to them have been extensively studied but how they trade-off these characteristics is under-researched. Such information is crucial for the development of effective policies to enhance recruitment and retention. Our aim was to investigate the strength of UK foundation doctors' and trainees' preferences for training post characteristics in terms of monetary value.METHODS
We used an online questionnaire study incorporating a discrete choice experiment (DCE), distributed to foundation programme doctors and doctors in training across all specialty groups within three UK regions, in August–October 2013. The main outcome measures were monetary values for training-post characteristics, based on willingness to forgo and willingness to accept extra income for a change in each job characteristic, calculated from regression coefficients.RESULTS
The questionnaire was answered by 1323 trainees. Good working conditions were the most influential characteristics of a training position. Trainee doctors would need to be compensated by an additional 49.8% above the average earnings within their specialty to move from a post with good working conditions to one with poor working conditions. A training post with limited rather than good opportunities for one's spouse or partner would require compensation of 38.4% above the average earnings within their specialty. Trainees would require compensation of 30.8% above the average earnings within their specialty to move from a desirable to a less desirable locality. These preferences varied only to a limited extent according to individual characteristics.DISCUSSION
Trainees place most value on good working conditions, good opportunities for their partners and desirable geographical location when making career-related decisions. This intelligence can be used to develop alternative models of workforce planning or to develop information about job opportunities that address trainees' values.