Choosing a Medical Specialty: Factors Considered by Iranian General Practitioners

Document Type: Original Article


1 Rheumatic Diseases Research Center (RDRC), School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, IRAN

2 Lung Disease & TB Research Center, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, IRAN

3 Neurosurgical Department, Ghaem Hospital, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, IRAN

4 Cancer Research Center, Omid Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, IRAN


Background: For medical students, the selection of a specialty is one of the most critical decisions to be made. On a personal level, it determines lifetime career achievements and, for the community, it directly affects the outcome of public health programs. The aim of this study was to investigate which factors were more important among Iranian residents when considering a specialty.
Methods: A total of 354 residents from 19 specialties answered the questionnaire which explored their views on nine factors which could have a possible impact on their decision. These factors were selected based on a preliminary discussion with residents and a review of related articles.
Results: The first three most common specialties were internal medicine (12.2%), surgery (10.2%) and cardiology (9.6%) for men and obstetrics and gynecology (17.9%), internal medicine (12.6%), and pathology (9.3%) for women. The highest score was related to the personal scientific interest, with a mean of 82.62±19.07 and the lowest score to government regulations and aims, with a mean of 14.90±26.11 in both genders. After that, among females, the role of family (p=0.002) and controllable lifestyle were considered valuable. The second most important factor among males was financial reward (p=0.006).
Conclusions: Personal interest, knowledge about a specialty, controllable lifestyle and financial reward are the most common reported factors among participants. Considering such influential factors is critical for producing motivated specialists and successful health care planning.         


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