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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 155-158

Preference of specialty choices among final year medical students of Bayero University Kano


Department of Paediatrics, Bayero University Kano, Kano, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication14-Oct-2016

Correspondence Address:
M O Asani
Department of Paediatrics, Bayero University Kano, Kano
Nigeria
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DOI: 10.4103/1118-8561.192392

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  Abstract 


Background: The choosing of a career specialty by medical students can be a complex and confusing issue. Several studies have demonstrated that medical students often show a strong preference for particular specialties even before graduation. This study aims to find out the specialty choices and the factors that influence the choices of final year medical students of Bayero University Kano. Materials and Methods: This is a cross-sectional study. The sample population involves all final year medical students of the Bayero University Kano. Ethical consent was obtained from the relevant authority. The subjects were given self-administered questionnaires. Chi-square or Fisher's exact test was used to assess the association between choice of specialty and demographic variables. P < 0.05 was considered as significant. Results: Total number of respondents is 71. The core clinical specialties account for 70.3% of the first choice among respondents: Obstetrics and gynecology – 19 (28.5%), surgery – 14 (20.9%), internal medicine – 8 (11.9%), and pediatrics – 6 (9%). None of the students chose pathology, microbiology, family medicine, and ENT as the first choice. The major reasons given for the choice of future career are personal interest and a better outcome for patients. There was no association between choice of future career and demographic variables. Conclusions: The preferences do not reflect the present demands of the health needs in Nigeria, therefore, there is need for healthcare planners, policy makers, and medical educators to strengthen mentorship processes and career guidance in undergraduate medical education.

Keywords: Kano, medical students, specialty choices


How to cite this article:
Asani M O, Gwarzo G D, Gambo M J. Preference of specialty choices among final year medical students of Bayero University Kano. Sahel Med J 2016;19:155-8

How to cite this URL:
Asani M O, Gwarzo G D, Gambo M J. Preference of specialty choices among final year medical students of Bayero University Kano. Sahel Med J [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 Nov 21];19:155-8. Available from: http://www.smjonline.org/text.asp?2016/19/3/155/192392




  Introduction Top


The training of medical practitioners worldwide involves the rotation of students in many distinct and interrelated specialties. The specialties include the basic medical and clinical sciences. As medical science advances and developing countries also make some progress to meet the challenges of providing quality health care for its citizens, the need for postgraduate training has increased. The choosing of a career specialty by medical students can be a complex and confusing issue after rotating through these specialties. Several studies have demonstrated that not only medical school entrants but medical school applicants often show a strong preference for particular specialties even before graduation.[1],[2]

The reasons why medical students choose their careers are complex. Factors such as medical school characteristics, personal interactions, lifestyle preferences, and workforce factors such as prestige, financial outcome, job opportunities, and societal needs have been found to influence the choice of specialties.[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8]

The only study done among final year medical students of the Bayero University Kano, Nigeria was carried out a decade ago, but the factors influencing the choices were not studied.[9] This study aims to find out the specialty choices, a decade later, and the factors that influence the choices.


  Materials and Methods Top


This is a cross-sectional study. The sample population involves all final year (600 level of study) medical students of the Bayero University Kano. Ethical consent was obtained from the ethical committee of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. The subjects were given self-administered questionnaires. The objectives of the study were explained to the students and written informed consent was obtained from them. The subjects were assured of the confidentiality of the collected information and were free to decline participation without any consequence. The questionnaire was developed after a thorough literature search on similar works. The questionnaire is divided into the three subsections. The first subsection described the demographic characteristics of the subjects. The second subsection included a list of 17 specialties which the medical students must have to rotate through before their eventual graduation as medical doctors. They were asked to rank their preferences as first, second, and third choices. The third and final subsection consisted of reasons why the choices of specialties were taken. These factors were rated either as major or minor reasons by the students: Multiple reasons are allowed in this subjection. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences software (SPSS, version 16.0, Chicago, USA) was used for analysis. All data were entered and frequencies and percentages of the variables calculated. Chi-square or Fisher's exact test was used to assess the association between choice of specialty and demographic variables. For the ease of analysis, the choice of career was divided into clinical and nonclinical specialties. P< 0.05 was considered as significant.


  Results Top


A total of 71 students responded out of a total of 89 students in the 600 level of study, giving a response rate of 79.8%. Four had incomplete data, therefore, only 67 responses were analyzed. The age range of the students was from 24 to 44 years with a median age of 27 years. There were 47 males and 20 females giving a male:female ratio of 2.35:1.

The major clinical specialties account for 70.3% of the first choice among respondents: Obstetrics and gynecology – 19 (28.5%), surgery – 14 (20.9%), internal medicine – 8 (11.9%), and pediatrics – 6 (9%) as illustrated in [Table 1] and [Figure 1].
Table 1: Specialty choice

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Figure 1: Relative frequency of specialty preference

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The major reasons given for the choice of future career are personal interest and a better outcome for patients. Other reasons proffered include availability of few specialists, influence of teachers, prestige, and better financial prospect as highlighted in [Table 2].
Table 2: Reason for choice of specialty*

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The demographic parameters were compared with the choice of clinical and nonclinical specialties [Table 3]. No factor was found to be significantly significant with the choice of future specialty. P value was calculated using Chi-square (χ2) and Fischer's exact test (f).
Table 3: Specialty choices of respondents related to socio-demographic reasons

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  Discussion Top


This study has highlighted the specialty choices and the reasons that influence the making of such choices by the final year medical students of Bayero Medical School. The core clinical specialties account for 70.3% of the first choice among the students: Obstetrics and gynecology – 19 (28.5%), surgery – 14 (20.9%), internal medicine – 8 (11.9%), and pediatrics – 6 (9%) as illustrated in [Figure 1]. A decade after a similar study by Gadanya and Ismail,[9] obstetrics and gynecology still remains the most desired specialty among the final year medical students of Bayero University. Onyeka and Ewuzie,[10] Egbi and Unuigbe,[11] and Ohaeri et al.[12] in South-eastern, South-southern, and South-western, Nigeria respectively also documented the preference for the core clinical specialties among the medical students. Our finding is also similar to those of Al-Fouz et al.[13] who also found out that the clinical specialties were the most desired specialties among Kuwaiti students although pediatrics and surgery were the favorite specialties while obstetrics and gynecology and surgery were the two most desired in our study while Orisatoki and Oguntibeju [14] reported that internal medicine was the most desired specialty among the Caribbean medical students. In our study, none of the students chose pathology, microbiology, family medicine, and ENT as the first choice, and specialties such as radiology, ophthalmology, anesthesiology, psychiatry, chemical pathology, hematology, and basic medical sciences were among the least preferred. This is similar to the finding of Orisatoki and Oguntibeju [14] where few students were interested in basic medical research. Studies in Jordan [15] and Pakistan [16] are similar to our study where obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, internal medicine, and pediatrics were the most preferred specialty. The preferences do not reflect the present demands of the health needs in Nigeria for example as at 2005, there were only 9 psychiatrists for every one million Nigerians.[16]

In this study, the major reasons given for the choice of future career are personal interest and a better outcome for patients. Other reasons proffered include availability of few specialists, influence of teachers, prestige, and better financial prospect. Personal interest was the major reason given by the students in the South Southern Nigeria.[11] The reasons in our study are similar to those given by Pakistani medical students [17] but diverse from the reasons proffered by the Jordanian students [15] whose major reasons were intellectual content and individual's competencies. Career choices and specialty preferences in medical profession are influenced by multiple factors including personality traits, teaching and learning environment, gender, and socioeconomic standing among other reasons,[4],[5],[6] this may account for the different reasons seen in studies. In this study, none of the socio-demographic factor appears to influence the choice of career. Our finding is similar to Ohaeri et al.[12] among the Ibadan medical students.


  Conclusion Top


The core clinical specialties remain the major choices of future career among the final year medical students of Bayero University. Specialties such as pathology, microbiology, family medicine, ENT, radiology, ophthalmology, anesthesiology, psychiatry, chemical pathology, hematology, and basic medical sciences are among the least preferred. Therefore, there is a need for healthcare planners, policy makers, and medical educators to strengthen mentorship processes and career guidance in undergraduate medical education.

Limitations

The choices of specialty at graduation may not necessarily be the eventual areas of specialties because factors such as experiences during the year of internship, availability of training spaces, and ease of passing the primary examinations may alter the initial choices. A study design with an appropriately sex-matched group of resident doctors in the same hospital may be able to test if the residents chose their specialty during their undergraduate years. The wide male:female ratio of 2.35:1 in this study may have introduced a gender bias since the traditional roles of women in the home is likely to influence the choices of female students.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Wright B, Scott I, Woloschuk W, Brenneis F, Bradley J. Career choice of new medical students at three Canadian universities: Family medicine versus specialty medicine. CMAJ 2004;170:1920-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
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4.
Senf JH, Campos-Outcalt D, Watkins AJ, Bastacky S, Killian C. A systematic analysis of how medical school characteristics relate to graduates' choices of primary care specialties. Acad Med 1997;72:524-33.  Back to cited text no. 4
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Whitcomb ME, Cullen TJ, Hart LG, Lishner DM, Rosenblatt RA. Comparing the characteristics of schools that produce high percentages and low percentages of primary care physicians. Acad Med 1992;67:587-91.  Back to cited text no. 5
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Basco WT Jr, Buchbinder SB, Duggan AK, Wilson MH. Associations between primary care-oriented practices in medical school admission and the practice intentions of matriculants. Acad Med 1998;73:1207-10.  Back to cited text no. 6
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Katz LA, Sarnacki RE, Schimpfhauser F. The role of negative factors in changes in career selection by medical students. J Med Educ 1984;59:285-90.  Back to cited text no. 7
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8.
Mutha S, Takayama JI, O'Neil EH. Insights into medical students' career choices based on third- and fourth-year students' focus-group discussions. Acad Med 1997;72:635-40.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Gadanya M, Ismail A. Specialty choices of final year medical students: A 10 - year follow up. Niger J Basic Clin Sci 2014;11:110-3.  Back to cited text no. 9
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10.
Onyeka TC, Ewuzie NP. Choice of future career among medical students in Enugu, Nigeria: Implications for anaesthesia. Niger J Surg 2010;16:9-12.  Back to cited text no. 10
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11.
Egbi OG, Unuigbe EI. Choice of medical specialties amongst final year medical students in two universities in South-South, Nigeria. West Afr J Med 2014;33:44-50.  Back to cited text no. 11
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12.
Ohaeri JU, Akinyinka OO, Asuzu MC. The specialty choice of clinical year students at the Ibadan Medical School. Afr J Med Med Sci 1992;21:101-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
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13.
Al-Fouzan R, Al-Ajlan S, Marwan Y, Al-Saleh M. Factors affecting future specialty choice among medical students in Kuwait. Med Educ Online 2012;17:1-7.  Back to cited text no. 13
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14.
Orisatoki RO, Oguntibeju OO. Future choice of specialty among students in a Caribbean medical school. Niger J Med 2008;17:261-4.  Back to cited text no. 14
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Khader Y, Al-Zoubi D, Amarin Z, Alkafagei A, Khasawneh M, Burgan S, et al. Factors affecting medical students in formulating their specialty preferences in Jordan. BMC Med Educ 2008;8:32.  Back to cited text no. 15
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World Health Organization. WHO Resource Book on Mental Health: Human Rights and Legislation. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2005.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
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Rehman A, Rehman T, Shaikh MA, Yasmin H, Asif A, Kafil H. Pakistani medical students' specialty preference and the influencing factors. J Pak Med Assoc 2011;61:713-8.  Back to cited text no. 17
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    Figures

  [Figure 1]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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