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Acad Med. 1989 Oct;64(10):622-9.

Specialty choices at one medical school: recent trends and analysis of predictive factors.

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  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0320.


Recent reports have raised the concern that personal care specialties, especially primary care specialties, are attracting fewer medical school graduates. In the present study, the authors evaluated the proportions of University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), medical school graduates entering personal care specialties and technology-oriented specialties from 1982 through 1988 and found no significant trend away from personal care specialties such as internal medicine, family practice, pediatrics, and psychiatry during these years. For the graduating class of 1988, admissions and questionnaire data were used to evaluate the importance of pre-admission, medical school, and postgraduate factors as determinants of specialty choice. The group entering personal care specialties (66% of all 1988 graduates) was significantly older and included more women and fewer minority students than the group entering technology-oriented specialties. Students rated income and lifestyle factors as being less important determinants of specialty choice than are medical school experiences and intrinsic qualities of the chosen specialties. However, compared with the students who entered personal care specialties, those who chose technology-oriented specialties over an alternate choice in personal care rated as significantly more important the opportunity to do procedures (p less than .001), income (p less than .005), the lesser degree of diagnostic uncertainty (p less than .005), and the rejected specialty's allowing less time for family (p less than .005) and for other interests (p less than .008). Exposure to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and loan indebtedness were rated the least significant influences on specialty choice.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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