While some students begin medical school with well-conceived ideas of the specialty they’ll pursue, several studies have shown that as many as 70 percent of those students will change their mind during medical school.[1] Conversely, other students focus so intently on preparing for medical school that the notion of choosing a specialty seems quite remote.

Physician specialty choice is a complex decision that includes many influencing factors. To better understand what influences students’ specialty choice decisions, the AAMC’s Graduation Questionnaire (GQ) asks fourth-year students how influential the following factors were in helping them choose their specialty. The graph below illustrates the top ten responses for moderate to strong influences for the 2019 GQ. 

Careers in Medicine (CiM) provides students’ tools and resources to learn about and assess their fit with specialty options, which students consistently rate as the most influential factors on their specialty choice. As such, students need

  • help understanding how their interests, values, skills and personally fit with a specialty,
  • current, accurate specialty information and opportunities to explore their options, and
  • trained mentors and advisors who can guide them through the career-planning process.
graph of specialty choice factors 2019
    Sources
    1. Kazerooni, EA; Blane, CE; Schlesinger, AE; Vydarney, KH. Medical students' attitudes toward radiology; comparison of matriculating and graduating student. Academic Radiology. 8/1/1997. 4(8). 601-607.