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Junior doctor engagement: what is it, why does it matter and what the workplace can do to improve it
  1. Emily Ward
  1. Clinical Leadership Fellow, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emily Ward, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ, UK; emily.ward1{at}


Background Across the world, there is a struggle to balance the provision of adequate healthcare with trained healthcare professionals. In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) is struggling with increasing demand coupled with a reduction in funding, an older multimorbid population and rising patient expectations.

Objectives The landscape within which doctors practise is constantly changing with increasing devolution, changing political priorities and new technologies, and as a result, we cannot afford to have disengaged staff.

Methods Employee engagement is a process, a description of how a business or workplace interacts with its staff. Research has demonstrated that while engagement can improve certain patient outcomes, the manner in which Junior Doctors are employed in the NHS can create many barriers to organisational workplace engagement.

Results This discussion focuses on how workplace engagement is being developed across healthcare; and some of the challenges to workplace engagement with Junior Doctors with a focus on issues such as placement durations, demanding workloads and lack of basic provisions for junior staff. It gives simple suggestions for how these barriers can be overcome and how Junior Doctors can be incorporated into teams, resulting in increased workplace engagement and improved patient outcomes.

  • doctor
  • engagement
  • clinical leadership
  • professionalism

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  • Contributors EW undertook a literature review on workplace engagement in the health setting. This commentary piece is a shortened version of the full literature review carried out to underpin ideas for research, focusing on the recruitment and retention of trainee physicians in the NHS. EW and Dr Ryan (acknowledged below) considered themes that would affect recruitment and retention of trainees and EW alone conducted a literature search and appraisal on the theme of workplace engagement and wrote all drafts of this article.

  • Funding This research was undertaken as part of a clinical leadership fellowship. EW received a salary via the Scottish Government Workforce directorate and the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh (RCPE) for this fellowship, but there was no other funding for this article.

  • Competing interests EW is a Junior Doctor in training in the NHS.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.