Medical vocation diluted during training

December 29, 1995

A survey of new medical graduates has revealed that since they entered medical school, there has been a drop of more than 10 per cent of those with a very strong desire to study medicine.

The British Medical Association has questioned more than 600 medical students who graduated this year, and will monitor them over the next decade in a bid to help shape medical education and workforce planning.

The survey found that those with a very strong desire to study medicine dropped from 57 per cent on entry to medical school to less than 44 per cent on graduation.

Chris McManus, professor of psychology at Imperial College's school of medicine, said: "It is interesting to see this being measured, although I don't find it very surprising, since students were originally selected for their very high motivation and therefore in a sense could only become less motivated."

They had been through a very long and gruelling course, and an even more gruelling training period lay ahead of them, he said.

The survey found that 18 per cent of the new graduates came from families where one or both parents was a doctor. The average age at which they decided to become a doctor was 14.

Men and women differed on their main motivation to study medicine. On being asked to choose a maximum of three key reasons, 65 per cent of women said they wanted to work with and help people, compared to 43 per cent of male students. About 60 per cent of both male and female graduates said it offered an interesting career, the main reason cited by men.

Almost 43 per cent of women said they had chosen medicine because they were good at sciences at school, compared to 38 per cent of men. Just over 21 per cent of men were influenced by job security, compared to 10 per cent of women, and almost 13 per cent were motivated by financial rewards, compared to 4 per cent of women.

The prominent career choices on graduation were hospital general medicine and general practice, with females in the majority of those attracted to general practice at this stage in their training.

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