Study: Students who view medicine as a calling more likely to enter primary care-related programs

Residency Program Insider, January 19, 2018

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As the U.S. faces a shortage of primary care physicians, researchers set out to determine if medical students’ professional identities shaped their specialty preferences. To do this, researchers had nearly 600 fourth-year allopathic and osteopathic medical students answer a self-administered mail survey. The questionnaire had them select a response on a 5-point Likert agree-disagree response scale to the following statement, “For me, the practice of medicine is a calling.” GME specialty data was then obtained 18 months into respondents’ residency from the AMA Physician Masterfile.

According to the results, which were published in the Annals of Family Medicine, most of the respondents saw the practice of medicine as a calling. However, those who strongly agreed with the statement were more likely to select a primary care-related residency. For example, 58% of respondents who pursued a residency in family medicine strongly agreed that medicine was a calling.

The study’s authors suggest that because medical school culture may be a contributing factor in students’ specialty preferences, “exposing students to generalist role models as early as possible may be particularly important in translating specialty preference to career choice.”

Source: Annals of Family Medicine

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