BACKGROUND: Given changing trends in specialty choices among medical students coupled with continued challenges associated with medical specialty decision-making, it is important for medical educators to understand how students make decisions about their medical career. Medical educators should be aware of how medical school-based experiences and interactions such as faculty, courses, and services impact students' specialty choices and decisions.
AIM: The study determined if differences in influences on specialty decision-making exist for students entering person-oriented specialties versus technique-oriented specialties.
METHODS: Three hundred and fifty-six fourth-year medical students completed a questionnaire about how the faculty, curriculum, student services, mentoring and professional development programs, lifestyle considerations, family/friends, and other factors influenced their choice of specialty.
RESULTS: Chi-square analyses indicated that students pursuing person-oriented specialties compared to technique-oriented specialties were moderately more likely to be influenced by their personal physician, by school faculty, and by medical school activities; slightly more likely to be influenced by medical school offices and services; and slightly less likely to be influenced by income expectations.
CONCLUSIONS: Students interested in person-oriented specialties versus technique-oriented specialties indicate differences in what influences their specialty choice. This study may be helpful to medical educators and advisors who work with students on specialty decision-making.
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