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Fam Med. 1989 Mar-Apr;21(2):127-31.

Specialty choice by medical students: recent graduate follow-up survey at the University of Washington.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


Understanding the factors that contribute to specialty choice by medical students is crucial if the proportion of physicians in primary care is to be increased. We surveyed 1,182 graduates of the University of Washington (1978-84) inquiring about residency training, current clinical specialty, influences and attributes in specialty selection, satisfaction with current specialty, and timing of the decision. Usable responses were 56% of the total surveyed (67% without 194 undeliverable surveys). When rates of non-response, bad address, and usable response were compared across graduating classes, no significant differences were found. The data also do not overrepresent a particular training choice or specialty group compared to all graduates. The majority of respondents (n = 404, 62.3%) were in practice at the time of the survey. The distribution of specialty groups was significantly different for those in practice compared to those still in training (X2 = 27.28, P less than .001). Although the groups were somewhat different, these differences did not lead to major changes in responses. Sixty percent of graduates choosing family medicine did so either before or during the first two years of medical school. This contrasts with other specialties, where the majority of students did not make a decision until the third year of medical school. Medical school courses were an important influence.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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