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Int J Med Educ. 2019 Feb 28;10:36-42. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5c60.1c63.

Swedish doctors' experiences and personality regarding medical specialty choice: a qualitative study.

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Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



To explore an understanding of medical doctors' entire process of specialty choice with a focus on the influence of personal experiences and personality traits on choices made.


A qualitative study was performed. Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with medical doctors undergoing their specialty training in Sweden about their experiences and personalities. The transcribed interviews were analyzed with an inductive content analysis approach.


A total of 15 medical doctors participated. Three themes were identified using content analysis: To be invited or not, to fit in or not and to contribute or not. Furthermore, the results refute that specialty choice is a long-term, complex process.


First, the importance of being invited to the specialty choice was stressed by the doctors, especially in their early years when they needed to feel valued and trusted. Secondly, the need to fit in was essential to make a sustainable career choice. Finally, the doctors' expressed a will to contribute to the medical field of their chosen specialty. The interviews showed that specialty choice is a long-term, complex process; therefore, one implication for the healthcare sector would be to target the entire chain of medical education to improve recruitment strategies for those specialties with recruitment difficulties. More studies are needed to understand better how positive and negative encounters within the healthcare sector can influence young doctors' specialty choice.


content analysis; medical doctors; qualitative research; recruitment; specialty choice

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