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Specialty Choice

Might you be suited to a certain area of medicine more than others?

If students have gendered approaches to studying and learning, how might this lead to differences in specialty choice?

1.What factors have contributed to your thoughts about future career path?

Studies have found that the following can all have great impact on a medical student’s choice of medical field[1][2][3]:

  • personal interactions

  • encouragement from mentors

  • lifestyle issues

  • community involvement

  • income potential

  • respect from colleagues and society

  • hospital exposure

  • type of care 

Once in practice, there is evidence that male and female physicians deal with similar work-related stresses differently and rely on varied methods for personal support[5].

A recent Canadian study of first year medical students found that those most interested in family medicine tended to be female[1]. Many female students have experienced an spoken or unspoken suggestion to enter family medicine, as such a career might better allow one to have a family [4]. While the percentage of females entering medicine in Ontario has risen over the past decade, the percentage of medical students applying to family medicine programs has fallen.  Students from smaller communities were more likely to have an interest in family medicine[4].


1. B. Wright, I. Scott, W. Woloschuk, and F. Brenneis. (2004) Career choice of new medical students at three Canadian universities: family medicine versus specialty medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association 170: 1920-1924.

2. C.J. Bland, L.N. Meurer, and G. Maldonado. (1995) Determinants of primary care specialty choice: a non-statistical meta-analysis of the literature. Academic Medicine 70: 620-641.

3. K.E. Ellsbury, J.H. Burack, D.M. Irby, F.T. Stritter, D. Ambrozy, J.D. Carline, et al. (1996) The shift to primary care: emerging influences on specialty choice. Academic Medicine 71[Supplement]: 8.

4. J. Hopkins, S. Khan, and R. Williams. Parental Leave (Summer 2002 Research Report). [Website] Accessed July 12, 2004.

5. B. Bergmana, F. Ahmada, and D.E. Stewartb. (2003) Physician health, stress and gender at a university hospital. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 54: 171--178.

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