Pan African Medical Journal

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Factors considered by undergraduate medical students when selecting specialty of their future careers

AAMA Alawad, WS Khan, YM Abdelrazig, YI Elzain, HO Khalil, OBE Ahmed, OAI Adam


Introduction: medical students are the source of a country's physicians. Determining how medical students select their areas of specialization is
the key to achieve a balanced distribution of doctors among all specialties. The objective is to identify the number of medical students who have
decided their postgraduate specialty career, their career specialties preference, and factors that may influence their decision to select a particular specialty.

Methods: a facility based cross-sectional study was conducted in  September 2013 at Faculty of Medicine, University of Medical Sciences and Technology, Khartoum, Sudan. A self-administered semi-structured  questionnaire comprising demographic data and questions about future specialties preferences and factors influencing those preferences was  distributed to 887 male and female students, (from first to fifth academic
years) recruited in the study.

Results: response rate was 73% with 647 questionnaires collected, out of 887 eligible medical students. Of the returned questionnaires, 604 were valid. The majority of students (541, 89.6%) have chosen a specialty. Surgery, medicine, paediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology were the most selected specialties. The least selected specialty was  anaesthesiology. A significant association was found between gender and specialty choice using Chi-square test (p=0.00). There was no association between undergraduate level and specialty choice (p=0.633). The most common reason for choosing a specific specialty was "Personal Interest" (215, 39.7 %) followed by being "Helpful to the community" (144, 26.6%).

Conclusion: surgery, medicine, paediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology were the most selected specialties.
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