South African Journal of Child Health

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Factors influencing choice of paediatrics as a career among medical students at the University of Nairobi, Kenya

PM Mwachaka, ET Mbugua


Objective. We aimed to determine factors influencing choice of a career in paediatrics by medical students in Kenya. Methods. A cross-sectional survey of 450 medical students from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, was undertaken using a questionnaire designed to assess their preferences with regard to future specialisation, and timing of and factors influencing this choice. The data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences. Results. The response rate was 385/450 (85.6%). Paediatrics was the second most preferred specialty after surgery, and was chosen by 50 students (13.0%). Female students were five times more likely than males to select paediatrics. Choice of paediatrics as a career was mainly determined by perceived intellectual challenge, presence of a role model, and ease of combining a career with raising a family. Those who had completed a clerkship in the specialty reported that they were encouraged by the teaching and clinical staff (p=0.006), but found the specialty less prestigious than others (p=0.030). None of the male students but 12 of the female students (30%) considered gender distribution to be a factor influencing their career choice (p=0.046). Conclusion. This study indicates that paediatrics is popular among female students and that several factors influence choice of this specialty. Understanding these factors may help medical school administrators and faculty plan future recruitment strategies.

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