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BMC Med Educ. 2018 Mar 27;18(1):52. doi: 10.1186/s12909-018-1155-9.

Personality traits and career choices among physicians in Finland: employment sector, clinical patient contact, specialty and change of specialty.

Author information

1
Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, (Siltavuorenpenger 5 A), P.O. Box 9, 00014, Helsinki, Finland. sari.mullola@helsinki.fi.
2
National Center for Children and Families, Teachers College Columbia University, Thorndike Hall 525 West 120th Street, Box 39, New York, NY, 10027, USA. sari.mullola@helsinki.fi.
3
Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Medical Faculty, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
4
Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, 501 Smyth Road, Ottawa, K1H 8L6, Canada.
5
School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa, 600 Peter Morand Crescent, Ottawa, K1G 5Z3, Canada.
6
School of Public Health, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, San Antonio, TX, 78229, USA.
7
Institute for Health and Welfare, P.O. Box 30, 00370, Helsinki, Finland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Personality influences an individual's adaptation to a specific job or organization. Little is known about personality trait differences between medical career and specialty choices after graduating from medical school when actually practicing different medical specialties. Moreover, whether personality traits contribute to important career choices such as choosing to work in the private or public sector or with clinical patient contact, as well as change of specialty, have remained largely unexplored. In a nationally representative sample of Finnish physicians (N = 2837) we examined how personality traits are associated with medical career choices after graduating from medical school, in terms of employment sector, patient contact, medical specialty and change of specialty.

METHODS:

Personality was assessed using the shortened version of the Big Five Inventory (S-BFI). An analysis of covariance with posthoc tests for pairwise comparisons was conducted, adjusted for gender and age with confounders (employment sector, clinical patient contact and medical specialty).

RESULTS:

Higher openness was associated with working in the private sector, specializing in psychiatry, changing specialty and not practicing with patients. Lower openness was associated with a high amount of patient contact and specializing in general practice as well as ophthalmology and otorhinolaryngology. Higher conscientiousness was associated with a high amount of patient contact and specializing in surgery and other internal medicine specialties. Lower conscientiousness was associated with specializing in psychiatry and hospital service specialties. Higher agreeableness was associated with working in the private sector and specializing in general practice and occupational health. Lower agreeableness and neuroticism were associated with specializing in surgery. Higher extraversion was associated with specializing in pediatrics and change of specialty. Lower extraversion was associated with not practicing with patients.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results showed distinctive personality traits to be associated with physicians' career and specialty choices after medical school independent of known confounding factors. Openness was the most consistent personality trait associated with physicians' career choices in terms of employment sector, amount of clinical patient contact, specialty choice and change of specialty. Personality-conscious medical career counseling and career guidance during and after medical education might enhance the person-job fit among physicians.

KEYWORDS:

Career counseling; Medical career; Medical education; Medical specialty; Person-job fit; Personality traits

PMID:
29587722
PMCID:
PMC5870817
DOI:
10.1186/s12909-018-1155-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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