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Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2005 Apr;60(2):143-50. Epub 2005 Apr 26.

What is behind a student's choice for becoming a doctor?

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Grapal-Psychological Counseling Group, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.



To determine the reasons for choosing the medical profession by interviewing freshmen medical students from the Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo and investigating their socio-economic and psychological profiles, as well as to determine whether there are gender differences.


One hundred and sixty three freshmen medical students answered a questionnaire regarding their socio-economical profile. Of those, 30 female and 30 male students underwent a face-to-face interview regarding the career choice, the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16 PF). The results were analyzed qualitatively and by Mann-Whitney, chi2, Fisher's Exact, and r(p) coefficient tests.


Most students were middle class, catholic, and had physicians in their families. Students of both genders had made an: early choice of the medical career and a persistence in taking exams many times, even after being discouraged. They also showed an awareness of the difficulties and limitations in developing their careers. The study revealed a strong valuation of the humanistic aspects of medicine; openness to new experiences; a deep personal identification with the choice of profession; a critical need for fulfillment in their careers; and conscious and unconscious desires to help people and be recognized for their usefulness, without being narcissistic. Female students were more sensitive (P <.001) and less imaginative (P = .005) than male students, who were more utilitarian and less grounded; female students tended to present greater emotional maturity while male students presented a greater tendency towards competition, and were more ambitious.


Students of both genders have similar socio-economical profiles and features regarding their motivations for choosing the medical profession. Slight differences were found regarding some psychological aspects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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