Medical Student Career Choice: Who Is the Influencer?

Kevin A. Hao, Shengyi Fu, Saleem Islam, Shawn D. Larson, Moiz M. Mustafa, Robin T. Petroze, Janice A. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: While many factors influence medical student career choice, interactions with attending and resident physicians during clinical rotations are particularly important. To evaluate the influence of attending and resident physicians on medical students’ career choices, particularly for those pursuing surgical careers, we quantified their respective influence in the context of other known influences. Methods: Rising fourth-year medical students and new graduates were given an IRB-exempt, 14-item online survey. Descriptive statistics were performed on the demographic information. Chi-square analysis was used, as were Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney analyses on the Likert responses (α = 0.05). Results: Survey response was 24%. Students pursuing general surgery rated residents greater than or equal to attendings on 7 of 8 key mentoring characteristics. Of students choosing a different specialty than the one they intended to pursue upon entering medical school, the influence of residents was cited by 100% of the students pursuing general surgery, compared to 59% of the entire cohort. Identification of a role model and perceived personality fit were significantly more important than other factors (P < 0.0001). Students pursuing general surgery rated the importance of identifying a role model and perceived personality fit greater than their peers. Conclusions: Residents have greater influences on medical students’ career choice compared to attendings. Students pursuing a surgical specialty, particularly general surgery, considered the influence of role models and perceived personality fit to be the most important factors in their specialty decision. These findings provide valuable insights to improve student experiences and career recruitment in surgical specialties, particularly general surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Mentoring
  • Residents
  • Student career choice


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