The Impact of Previous Cardiology Electives on Canadian Medical Student Interest and Understanding of Cardiology


  • Bright Huo BScPharm. Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Wyatt MacNevin BEng. Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Todd Dow MD. Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Miroslaw Rajda MD; FRCPC. Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada



Medical education, Cardiology, Career choice, Medical students


Background: Most Canadian medical schools do not have mandatory cardiology rotations. Early exposure to clinical cardiology aids career navigation, but clerkship selectives are chosen during pre-clerkship. This study investigates whether prior elective experiences affect medical student interest as well as understanding of cardiology before clerkship selections.

Methods: A literature search was conducted using Google Scholar, Embase and PubMed to create an evidence-based cross-sectional survey. The anonymous questionnaire was administered to 53 second-year medical students at a Canadian medical school via Opinio, an online survey platform. Students were assessed on their interest and understanding of cardiology practice using a 5-point Likert Scale. Descriptive statistics and Chi-Square analysis were applied to assess the relationship between previous elective experience, medical student interest, and understanding of career-related factors pertaining to cardiology.

Results: Overall, 26 (49.1%) students reported cardiology interest, while it was a preferred specialty for 9 (17.0%). Medical students reported low understanding of community practice (n=20, 37.7%), duration of patient relationships (n=14, 26.4%), spectrum of disorders (n=13, 24.5%), and in-patient care (n=11, 20.8%) associated with cardiology practice. Students with prior cardiology electives had increased understanding of in-patient care (?2 = 4.688, Cramer’s V = 0.297, p = 0.030 and were more likely to select cardiology as a top specialty choice (?2 = 7.983, Cramer’s V = 0.388, p = 0.005).

Conclusions: Pre-clerkship medical students have a low understanding of cardiology practice. Increasing pre-clerkship exposure to cardiology may help students determine their interest in the specialty before clerkship selectives are chosen.


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How to Cite

Huo, B., MacNevin, W., Dow, T., & Rajda, M. (2021). The Impact of Previous Cardiology Electives on Canadian Medical Student Interest and Understanding of Cardiology. International Journal of Medical Students, 9(3), 207–212.



Original Article