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Factors influencing the choice of surgery as a career by preregistration interns

TA Lawal
AO Afolabi


Background: The dwindling interest in surgery and surgical specialties raises the fears that the surgical man-power requirements of the society may not be met adequately in coming years. There is a need to explore ways of stimulating interest in surgery in order to forestall this.
Objective: To identify factors that influence or predict the choice of surgery as a career by interns.
Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study of 271 interns was conducted using structured self administered questionnaires. The data obtained included demographic details, details of internship rotations, choice of specialty, reasons for nonconsideration of surgery and if the interns had role models, staff advisers and first degree relatives who were surgeons. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics (SPSS software) with the level of significance at p < 0.05.
Results: There were 163 (60.1%) males and 108 (39.9%) females with a mean age of 25.8 years. The majority (97%) wished to commence residency training soon after internship; surgery (37.6%), and internal medicine (22.4%) were the most popular choices. Reasons for non-consideration of surgery included: stressful (46.1%), future family plans (41.3%) and difficult training (18.1%). Males were more likely to choose surgery than females (52.1% vs. 13.0%, p < 0.001). Married
interns were less likely to choose surgery compared to their single  colleagues (0% vs. 37.5%, p = 0.042). Having surgeons as role models, staff advisers or first degree relatives were significantly associated with selecting a career in surgery.
Conclusion: Gender, marital status, having surgeons as role models, staff advisers or first degree relatives in medical school are significant factors influencing the choice of a career in surgery.
Keywords: career choice; interns; surgery; surgical specialties