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Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol. 2018 Jul-Dec;25(3-4):142-149. doi: 10.4103/meajo.MEAJO_261_17.

Perceptions and Career Expectation in Ophthalmology among Saudi Undergraduate Medical Students.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.



To assess the perceptions about ophthalmology as a career among undergraduate medical students and to investigate the determinants of career choice in ophthalmology.


A questionnaire was administered to all medical students (from 4th year to interns) in King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. A total of 519 students were included in the study. Students who aspire for ophthalmology as a career, i.e., those who mentioned it in their top three choices (Group A), were compared to those who did not (Group B) regarding demographic and academic factors, factors generally influencing career choice and perception about and experience in ophthalmology.


Among 519 included students, ophthalmology was the first career choice of 5.6% and in the top three choices of 13.5% of students. Students from Group A had female preponderance and comparable academic skills, by reference to Group B. Group A reported to have a better experience in ophthalmology, including conference attendance, research activity, and community services related to ophthalmology, as well as greater advantage from ophthalmology rotation. Determinants of career choice in ophthalmology included giving importance for workload during their residency (odds ratio [OR] = 3.38; P = 0.021), having concern about challenging instrumental features (OR = 0.29, P = 0.012), believing that ophthalmology should be included in primary care (OR = 13.60, P = 0.002), and having participated in community service activity in ophthalmology (OR = 10.10, P = 0.005).


Students who aspire for a career in ophthalmology showed to have an early involvement in related academic activities and less concern about instrumental and intellectual challenges, as compared to their counterparts. The formal ophthalmology rotation is the key step to recruit future ophthalmologists by correcting misconceptions and enhancing interest about the specialty.


Career; Saudi; ophthalmology; perception; undergraduate

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