Specialty Choice Medical Students: “Get A Life”

Lifestyle is the most important factor for medical students in their specialty choice. With specialty choice in this research is meant the distinction between person oriented and technique oriented specialty.

person-oriented specialties are considered to be family practice, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, physical medicine and rehabilitation with drug intervention, and psychiatry, whereas technique-oriented specialties are anesthesiology, dermatology, emergency medicine, otolaryngology, pathology, radiology, and surgery.

Medical students are more concerned with entering specialties that provide “controllable lifestyle”, meaning a lifestyle in which the physician is in control of the time spent at work and time spent otherwise. Gone are the days that patients, bosses, hospitals were mostly in charge of your working hours. Other factors for both groups were parents, income, coursework, and faculty.

Overall the difference between specialty choice was that those students seeking person oriented specialties were more likely to be influenced by personal physician, faculty and their med school experience. Those seeking technique oriented specialties were more likely to be influenced by the expected high income of their choice. The technique oriented med students were less likely to have experienced a role model during education and they felt slightly disappointed in the support offered by their med school in their specialty choice.

Students with an early preference for person-oriented specialties may be more likely to choose a person-oriented specialty, whereas students with early preferences for technique-oriented specialties are less likely to eventually enter a technique-oriented specialty.
Counselors and advisors may want to encourage students with an early interest in technique- oriented specialties to explore both person-oriented and technique-oriented specialties.

Borges, N., Manuel, R., Duffy, R., Fedyna, D., & Jones, B. (2009). Influences on specialty choice for students entering person-oriented and technique-oriented specialties Medical Teacher, 31 (12), 1086-1088 DOI: 10.3109/01421590903183787

Manuel, R. (2009). Person-Oriented Versus Technique-Oriented Specialties: Early Preferences and Eventual Choice Medical Education Online, 14 DOI: 10.3885/meo.2009.Res00284