Clinical Elective Choices and Motivations for Future Career Specialty Selection of Medical School Trainees and Junior Doctors of the University of the West Indies, Jamaica
Keywords:Electives, Medical students, Career choices, Medical specialty
Background: Clinical electives provide opportunities toward future careers. This study aimed to examine whether students at the University of the West Indies used clinical electives to help with specialization choice and determine factors that influence trainee decisions for specialty training.
Methods: A cross-sectional prospective study was conducted between July 2019 and March 2020, at The University of the West Indies and the University Hospital of the West Indies involving senior medical students and junior doctors. Paper questionnaires were administered using convenience sampling. Participants voluntarily agreed and were kept anonymous.
Results: 193 participants, aged 20 to 35 years, completed the questionnaire 133 (68.9%) females. Preferred electives were internal medicine specialties (80, 41.5%), then surgical specialties (53, 27.5%). Sixty-four (33.2%) participants reported using electives to gain experience for their future career; other reasons included filling knowledge gaps (101, 52.3%) and repeating failed clerkships (19, 9.8%). Career preferences included surgery (75, 40.8%), internal medicine (41, 22.3%), anesthetics (20, 10.4%), and obstetrics & gynecology (18, 9.3%). Males showed preference for surgical specialties (p=0.002). Elective choice for determining career path significantly correlated with future likely specialty choice (likelihood ratio chi-square test (32)=98.37, p<0.001). Motivational factors that correlated significantly with future likely specialty choices were intellectual challenge (p=0.025), income (p=0.010), prestige (p=0.015) and working hours (p=0.012).
Conclusions: Of the participants surveyed, only 33.2% used clinical electives for their intended purpose of informing future career paths. Surgical specialties were the top selections for postgraduate training and intellectual challenge was the top motivational factor.
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