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Med Educ Online. 2016 May 11;21:29448. doi: 10.3402/meo.v21.29448. eCollection 2016.

Factors associated with the choice of general medicine as a career among Japanese medical students.

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Department of Community Medicine, Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine, Ehime, Japan.
Department of Internal Medicine, Seiyo Municipal Nomura Hospital, Ehime, Japan;
Department of Internal Medicine, Seiyo Municipal Nomura Hospital, Ehime, Japan.



In Japan, there is a shortage of young physicians in various specialties; the present situation of general medicine or family medicine (GM/FM) in particular is risky. The factors influencing the career choice of Japanese medical students are poorly understood. This study aims to identify factors related to choosing GM/FM as a career.


The study was designed as a cross-sectional survey. Students at one medical school in Japan filled out a questionnaire. Students were asked to state their intended medical specialty, and they rated the importance of specific individual and occupational aspects using a 4-point likert scale. Factor analysis was performed on the variables. Reliability of the factor scores was estimated using Cronbach's alpha coefficients; biserial correlations between the factors and career choices were calculated. Furthermore, multiple linear regression analysis was performed using career choice (GM/FM vs. others) as the criterion variable and the factors plus demographic characteristics as confounding variables.


Factor analysis produced six factors that explained future career plans. Medical students in this study had a positive and realistic idea about GM/FM, but only 18.8% of them chose GM/FM first as a career. The significant variables associated with choosing GM/FM first as a career were: 'Admission from hometown' (β=0.189, P=0.001), 'Student preparing for the entrance exam' (β=0.172; P=0.001), 'Intent for rural practice' (β=0.123, P=0.016), and 'Work-life balance' (β=0.126, P=0.013). While significant variables that were negatively associated with choosing GM/FM were 'Presence of medical relatives' (β=-0.107, P=0.037) and 'Scientific orientation' (β=-0.125, P=0.013).


Strategies have been suggested, such as recruiting medical students with significant variables that were associated with choosing GM/FM first as a career. By engaging students early in their choice of career, we may be able to increase enthusiasm for this specialty.


Japanese medical students; career choice; family medicine; general medicine

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