Specialty choices: Patterns and determinants among medical undergraduates in Enugu Southeast Nigeria
Background: Specialty choices of medical undergraduates are important in planning educational programs and human resources for health‑care delivery. The aim of this study was to investigate the specialty preferences of medical undergraduates and determine the factors that influenced their specialty choices.
Methods: This was a cross‑sectional questionnaire‑based survey carried out among final year medical undergraduates of University of Nigeria Enugu Campus, Enugu Nigeria. A self‑administered questionnaire was used for data collection from the participants. Sociodemographic characteristics, decision to specialize, the timing of the decision, specialty choices and factors influencing these choices were evaluated. Chi‑squared test and unpaired t‑test were used to analyze the observations.
Results: Surgery and surgical specialties 79 (52%) were the most preferred specialties among the students. This was followed by obstetrics and gynecology 22 (14.5%) and public health 16 (10.5%). Personal interest in a specialty, personal abilities/competence, and career prospects were the most influential determinants of specialty choices. The career choices of male students were preferentially influenced by family/societal expectations (P = 0.03) and diversity of patients (P = 0.01). Low work hours significantly (P = 0.04) influenced the career choices of female students.
Conclusion: Surgical specialties, obstetrics and gynecology, and public health were the most preferred specialties among our participants. The most important determinants of specialty choices were personal interest, personal abilities, and career prospects.
Keywords: Enugu, medical undergraduates, Nigeria, specialty choices