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Natl Med J India. 2012 Jul-Aug;25(4):226-9.

Future specialization interests among medical students in southern India.

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Department of Community Medicine and Family Medicine, AIIMS Bhubaneswar, Near Biju Patnaik Police Academy, Village Sijua, Bhubaneshwar, Odisha 751019, India.



A consideration of the future specialization interests of undergraduate medical students might help to understand the needs of higher medical education and future manpower availability for healthcare.


A cross-sectional study was conducted among 373 undergraduate students of a medical college in southern India using a self-administered questionnaire.


Of the 373 students, 188 (50.4%) were men. Almost all of them (370 [99.2%]) wanted to pursue postgraduation. Of these, 267 (72.4%) wanted to pursue postgraduation in India. Overall, the first choice subject was surgery (120 [32.2%]) followed by internal medicine (85 [22.8%]) and paediatrics (43 [11.5%]). The third preference for men and women differed, with men choosing orthopaedics and women choosing obstetrics and gynaecology. The factors that influenced the choice of specialization were interest in the speciality (Likert scale score 4.7), job satisfaction (4.6), employment opportunities (4.0), job security (4) and high income potential (3.9).


It was evident from the proportion of students desiring to do postgraduation and their choice of specialties that most of them will end up working at hospitals instead of at primary healthcare centres. The deficiencies of certain specialists such as ophthalmologists are likely to persist. This is a cause for concern as the majority of our population lives in rural areas and there is already a maldistribution of doctors.

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