BioScience Trends. 2011;5(2):69-76. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2011.v5.2.69)

Medical students' choice of specialty and factors determining their choice: A cross-sectional questionnaire survey in Melaka-Manipal Medical College, Malaysia.

Chew YW, Rajakrishnan S, Low CA, Jayapalan PK, Sreeramareddy CT


Information about medical students' choice of specialty can be helpful for planning health manpower. However, such information from medical students in Malaysian medical schools is lacking. We carried out a cross-sectional questionnaire survey among fourth- and fifth-year medical undergraduate students at Melaka-Manipal Medical College. A total of 425 students responded to the survey questionnaire. Nearly a quarter of the students indicated internal medicine as their choice of specialty. Other choices were general surgery (13.2%), pediatrics (11.3%), orthopedics (12.7%) and obstetrics & gynecology (Ob/Gyn) (12.1%). Female students (OR 1.91; 95% CI 1.18-3.08), fourth-year students (OR 1.9; 95% CI 1.15-3.12), and students who reported a higher self-rated knowledge of their subject of choice were more likely to choose internal medicine and allied specialties (OR 1.53; 95% CI 1.07-2.19). The influence of teaching faculty and consultants at the teaching hospitals (74.4%) and inspiration obtained during clinical postings (71.9%) were the factors which were rated by the most students as 'important' for choosing a specialty. About half of the students intended to pursue their postgraduate studies in Malaysia, most of the rest in the United Kingdom or Australia. While internal medicine and surgical subspecialties were preferred, students were not inclined towards primary care or diagnostic subspecialties. Incentives should be provided and other measures should be taken to make these branches more attractive.

KEYWORDS: Undergraduate medical education, postgraduate training, specialty, Malaysia

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