Choosing Family Medicine. What Influences Medical Students?
Canadian Family Physician
OBJECTIVE: To explore factors that influence senior medical students to pursue careers in family medicine.
DESIGN: Qualitative study using semistructured interviews.
SETTING: University of Western Ontario (UWO) in London.
PARTICIPANTS: Eleven of 29 graduating UWO medical students matched to Canadian family medicine residency programs beginning in July 2001.
METHOD: Eleven semistructured interviews were conducted with a maximum variation sample of medical students. Interviews were transcribed and reviewed independently, and a constant comparative approach was used by the team to analyze the data.
MAIN FINDINGS: Family physician mentors were an important influence on participants' decisions to pursue careers in family medicine. Participants followed one of three pathways to selecting family medicine: from an early decision to pursue family medicine, from initial uncertainty about career choice, or from an early decision to specialize and a change of mind.
CONCLUSION: The perception of a wide scope of practice attracts candidates to family medicine. Having more family medicine role models early in medical school might encourage more medical students to select careers in family medicine.