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Original Research

Participants in a medical student-run clinic and career choice

Michael A. Weinreich, Ilana Kafer, Denise Tahara, William H. Frishman.

IObjective: With the current rate of medical professional training, it is estimated there will be a lack of 45,000
primary care physicians by 2020. Student-run medical clinics (110 nation-wide) may help to fill this need,
as well as educate medical students, and have been proposed as a tool to foster student interest in primary
care. The impact of involvement with student-run clinics on medical student career choice is unknown.
Methods: A prospective, cross-sectional, 12-item, anonymous, web-based survey of 2,060 current/former
medical students from the New York Medical College classes of 2005-2015 was conducted. The survey
assessed basic demographic information, level of participation with the student-run clinic (La Casita de la Salud),
current/future career choice, and self-perceived determinants of career choice. Results: Participation with
La Casita was not significantly associated with primary care career choice (50.21% vs. 49.79%; P = 0.659).
Of the participants who went into primary care, 26% reported that their experience with La Casita influenced
their decision to enter the primary care field and 11% changed their initial career intentions to that of primary
care. Those who entered pediatrics and emergency medicine were more likely to have participated with La
Casita than not (66% vs. 34%; P = 0.01 and 71% vs. 29%; P < 0.01, respectively). Conclusions: Participation
with a student-run clinic may not affect the career choice of an overall medical school class, but it does play
an influential role for a minority of students. Student-run clinics may also serve to offer an additional provider
source to communities that have limited physician access.

Key words: primary care; student-run clinics; career choice

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