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Career choice and its infl uencing factors: Perception of senior medical students

Lamyaa Z. AbouZaid, Nihal M. Nabil, Sara O. Al-Fadil, Abdulaziz Alatmi, Abdullah A. Saeed.

Objectives: The objective was to investigate the career preferences of senior medical students. In
addition, we aim to rank the factors affecting career choice to identify different motivators that could
be re-enforced in medical schools to enhance pursuing those least popular specialties. Methods: This
is an observational cross-sectional study included 116 senior medical students. Data were collected
using a self-administered questionnaire. Results: Around 60% of the students have decided regarding
their preferred future specialties. Of total male students who have decided their first choice, 23 (35.4%)
students have selected surgical specialties, 12 (18.5%) preferred medical specialties, only three (4.6%)
students chose family medicine, and one (1.5%) student chose pediatrics. For females, of total students
who have decided their first choice, 16 (31.4%)students chose medical specialties, 15 (29.4%) chose
surgical specialties, three (5.9%) selected pediatrics, and no one had chosen family medicine. Regarding
the ranking of factors influencing career choices, “personal interest” ranked first for all students with
females giving it significantly more weigh (P = 0.008) and the second rank was for “previous positive
experience at the same specialty” and also showed statistically significant difference between both
genders (P < 0.001). However, “role model,” “avoid on call shifts,” “advice from others,” and “grade point
average (GPA)” were ranked lower. 30-40% of our students did not decide yet regarding specialty choice;
this could be considered an opportunity to influence career paths. Conclusion: Attending educational
activities and orientation sessions were significantly associated with career choice decision. The highest
percentages of both male and female students had selected surgical and medical specialties, and the
lowest percentages had preferred pediatrics and family medicine; no one had chosen obstetrics/gynecology
or basic medical sciences. The significant predictors of career choice include GPA, advice from others,
and attending orientation sessions.

Key words: Career choice, factors affecting medical specialty choice, senior medical students

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