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J Grad Med Educ. 2011 Sep;3(3):367-71. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-10-00101.1.

Factors influencing choice of medical specialty of preresidency medical graduates in southeastern Nigeria.



This study examined the determinants of specialty choice of preresidency medical graduates in southeastern Nigeria.


We used a comparative cross-sectional survey of preresidency medical graduates who took the Basic Sciences Examination of the Postgraduate Medical College in Enugu, southeastern Nigeria, in March 2007. Data on participants' demographics and specialty selected, the timing of the decision, and factors in specialty selection were collected using a questionnaire. Data were examined using descriptive and analytical statistics. P < .05 was considered significant.


The survey response rate was 90.8% (287 of 316). The sample included 219 men and 68 women, ranging in age from 24 to 53 years and with a mean age of 33.5 ± 1.1 (SD) years. Career choice was more frequently influenced by personal interest (66.6%), career prospects (9.1%), and appraisal of own skills/aptitudes (5.6%), and it was least affected by altruistic motives (1.7%) and influence of parents/relations (1.7%). The respondents selected specialties at different rates: obstetrics and gynecology (22.6%), surgery (19.6%), pediatrics (16.0%), anesthesiology (3.1%), psychiatry (0.3%), and dentistry (0.0%). Most (97.2%) participants had decided on specialty choice by the end of their fifth (of a total 16 years) postgraduate year. The participants significantly more frequently preferred surgery and pediatrics to other disciplines (P < .002, after Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons).


Preresidency medical graduates in southeastern Nigeria were influenced by personal interest, career prospects, and personal skills/aptitude in deciding which specialty training to pursue. The most frequently chosen specialties were surgery and pediatrics. These findings have implications for Nigeria's education and health care policy makers.

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