Background: A large shortage of Saudi physicians has been observed in Saudi Arabia, and in response, a large number
of public and private medical schools was launched over the last 15 years. However, the motives of Saudi students to
join these medical schools have not been thoroughly studied. Aim: To highlight the reasons behind the choice to join the
medical profession by senior medical students and whether these reasons vary between students from public or private
medical schools. The choice of a future specialty among the senior students and factors affecting this choice were also
investigated. Subject and methods: This comparative cross-sectional study was conducted at King Abdulaziz University
and one of the private medical schools at Jeddah during the year 2014–2015 using a self-administered questionnaire
distributed to all sixth year medical students in both schools. Results: The most common reason overall for selecting
medicine as a profession was a willingness to help patients (51.9%), and this was also the most common reason among
male students (56%), while an interest in the medical field (51.1%) was the most common reason among female students
(52.4%). Having a high GPA was significantly more common (p< 0.001) at the King Abdulaziz University (KAU) medical
school compared to the private school. The most frequent future specialties chosen by KAU and private medical school
students were medicine (27%) and surgery (26.2%), respectively. Personal interest was a factor rated significantly higher
(p = 0.02) regarding its effect on students’ choices in the KAU medical school. Conclusion: Many efforts should be
spent to improve the aids available to Saudi students in selecting their profession.
Medical; Profession; Specialty Choice; Motives; Medical School; Private; KAU.