Do Medical Students Prefer a Career in Community Medicine?

Sitanshu Sekhar Kar, Archana Ramalingam, K. C. Premarajan, Gautam Roy


Background: Inadequate attention to management and institutional reforms is an important barrier to achieving universal health coverage. Skilled and motivated public health managers in adequate numbers are an important requirement to overcome this hurdle. However, what are the career choices of medical students? Are they interested in Community Medicine and Public Health? To document the career choices of MBBS students and their perceptions toward Community Medicine as a career option.

Methods: A cross sectional survey was carried out among 226 MBBS students (III, V and VII semesters) studying in a tertiary care teaching hospital of South India during July-October 2011. A pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire was used, and information was collected on socio-demographic variables, choice of specialty and reasons for preference. Qualitative content analysis of student feedback was done by categorization and interpretation of data in terms of common themes.

Results: Of the 226 available students, 204 (90.3%) students returned the completely filled questionnaires. Of them, 101 (49.5%) were girls. The mean (standard deviation) age of the participants was 20.13 (±1.3) years. Almost all (92.1%) wanted to pursue post-graduation in India and Internal medicine was the most preferred career choice (30.9%). The qualitative responses for opinion about Community Medicine as a career choice were interpreted under two themes; those that were favorable and those not so favorable.

Conclusions: There is limited preference for Community Medicine as a career choice. curriculum modification and explanation of career path after post-graduation in Community Medicine will help to generate interest in the subject.

Keywords: Career choice, Community Medicine, medical education

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