Primary care specialty career choice among Canadian medical students Understanding the factors that influence their decisions Heather Ann Osborn Kevin Fung MD FRCSC
Jordan T. Glicksman
MD MPH FRCSC
Michael G. Brandt
Philip C. Doyle
Abstract Objective To identify which factors influence medical students’ decision to choose a career in family medicine and pediatrics, and which factors influence their decision to choose careers in non–front-line specialties. Design Survey that was created based on a comprehensive literature review to determine which factors are considered important when choosing practice specialty. Setting Ontario medical school. Participants An open cohort of medical students in the graduating classes of 2008 to 2011 (inclusive). Main outcome measures The main factors that influenced participants’ decision to choose a career in primary care or pediatrics, and the main factors that influenced participants’ decision to choose a career in a non–frontline specialty.
EDITOR’S KEY POINTS
• Medical students’ decisions regarding specialty contribute to the formation of the national physician work force. It is important to determine the main factors that lead students to choose non–front-line specialist careers in order to have insight into whether interest in front-line specialties can be enhanced through increased educational exposure, illumination of existing misinformation, or modification of current practice opportunities. • The authors surveyed medical students at the time that they were applying to the residency match to determine what factors influenced their choice of specialty. • Status was considered important by more than 40% of respondents. However, students did not view status as equal among specialties; 89% of those interested in non–front-line specialties believed it was a positive influence on their choice of specialty, whereas only 41% of those interested in primary care believed it to be a positive influence on their choice of specialty. This article has been peer reviewed. Can Fam Physician 2017;63:e107-13
Results A total of 323 participants were included in this study. Factors that significantly influenced participants’ career choice in family medicine or pediatrics involved work-life balance (acceptable hours of practice [P = .005], acceptable on-call demands [P = .012], and lifestyle flexibility [P = .006]); a robust physician-patient relationship (ability to promote individual health promotion [P = .014] and the opportunity to form longterm relationships [P
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