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Age Ageing. 2013 Sep;42(5):654-7. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft093. Epub 2013 Aug 4.

Would you be a geriatrician? Student career preferences and attitudes to a career in geriatric medicine.

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School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.



career intentions of medical students may impact on education and workforce planning. We sought to determine (i) career choices of senior medical students; (ii) interest in geriatric medicine; (iii) factors influencing such choices; and (iv) the impact of a 6-week Medicine in the Community module.


cross-sectional survey of all senior UCD medical students, before and after completion of a 'Medicine in the Community' module, 2009-11.


eighty-two per cent (274/336) completed the survey at module's end. Two-thirds (174) had chosen a future speciality, most frequently general practice (32.1%) and internal medicine (17%). Half (49.8%) believed career selection is made during medical school. Thirty-one per cent would consider a career in geriatric medicine; reasons cited were interesting field (34.5%), clinical variety (25%) and perception as emotionally rewarding (20.2%). Commonest deterrents were perceived slowness-of-pace and not wanting to work with older patients. Female students (adjusted OR: 1.89, P = 0.05) and those prioritising travel opportunities (adjusted OR: 2.77, P = 0.01) were more likely to consider geriatric medicine. Half (51.5%) reported that the community medicine module increased their interest in geriatric medicine; 91.3% that it would positively influence how they treated older patients. Students reporting a positive influence of the module were more likely to consider a career in geriatric medicine (OR: 1.62, P = 0.02).


two-thirds of students had already chosen a future speciality. One-third would consider geriatric medicine. This may have important implications for workforce planning and development of geriatric medicine. Undergraduate exposure to the discipline may increase interest in geriatric medicine as a career, and positively influence management of older patients.


career choice; education; geriatrics; older people; teaching

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