BACKGROUND: Challenges in recruiting and retaining medical staff in preventive medical specialties have recently been the subject of numerous studies. To improve selection procedures, it is important to understand the career preferences and incentives of students in preventive medicine (PM), who initially marked the program as either their first choice or second choice. 1386 PM students in four Vietnamese medical schools participated in a survey using a structured, written questionnaire. Students were asked about their reasons for entering medical school and studying PM, their perceptions of PM during the academic course, and their expected career path following graduation.
RESULTS: First-choice PM students (group 1) more often had siblings working as a preventive doctor, while second-choice PM students' siblings (group 2) were more often medical students or clinical doctors. Group 1 had gathered more information about PM by consulting their high-school teachers and the national career guide. They were mainly drawn to the PM program by the newness of the profession, the prospect of a high-income job, its low entry criteria and low study burden compared to general medicine, their desire to uphold their family tradition, and to fulfill their family's wish of having a doctor in the family. Group 2 chose to study PM because they wanted to pursue their dream of becoming a doctor. Compared to the first group, their perception of PM more frequently changed during the later years of the curriculum and they more frequently envisioned becoming a clinical doctor following graduation.
CONCLUSIONS: Interest in and motivation for PM may be cultivated among prospective or current students by improving information provision, diffusing knowledge, and otherwise acquainting students better with the PM specialty before and during the program.
- Journal Article