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Med Teach. 2011;33(3):e163-72. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2011.544795.

Psychological factors determining success in a medical career: a 10-year longitudinal study.

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  • 1Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Quality of Life Research, Medical University of GdaƄsk, ul. Tuwima 15, 80-210 Gdansk, Poland.



Systemic review of predictors of success in medical career is an important tool to recognize the indicators of proper training.


To determine psychological factors that predict success in a medical career. The success is defined as professional competence, satisfaction with medicine as a career, occupational stress and burnout and quality of life (QOF).


Part I (1999-2005), medical students were examined each subsequent year, beginning with admission. Assessment included academic achievement (high school final examination results, entrance exam results, academic results during medical school) and psychological characteristics (sense of coherence (SOC), depression, anxiety, coping styles, value system and need for social approval). Part II (2008-2009), the same participants completed an Internet survey 4 years after graduation. Results of the postgraduate medical exam were taken under consideration.


Academic achievement predicts only professional competence. Coping styles are significant indicators of satisfaction with medicine as a career. SOC, while assessed with anxiety and depression during studies, enabled us to recognize future QOF of medical graduates. Professional stress is not predictable to such an extent as other success indicators.


There are significant psychological qualities useful to draw the outline of the future job and life performance of medical graduates.

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