Does examining job market awareness among medical students provide insight into the specialty selection process?

Rachel Yaffa Zisk-Rony, Charles Weissman*, Alexander Avidan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: The future composition of a country’s physician workforce depends on medical students’ choices of specialties. Students’ familiarity with the job market (the healthcare system) they are about to enter and the influence job market conditions have on their choices has not been well explored. This study focuses on whether and how the healthcare system’s employment landscape is taken into consideration by medical students and whether this facet adds information about the specialty selection process. Methods: Fifth-year medical students completed a questionnaire querying their knowledge and perceptions of the national healthcare system, selection criteria for choosing a specialty and a post-residency work position. Data were analyzed with two-tailed Student’s t-tests and multivariable regression analysis. Results: The questionnaire was completed by 242 students (49% women). Forty per cent were interested in a specialty where it is ‘easy to find work’ and 64% in a specialty that ‘provides job security’. Only 12% were attracted to specialties with empty positions due to a workforce shortage. A high salary was considered an important selection criterion by 45% of students, who were also not deterred by specialties with surplus workforce, especially, if accompanied by high salaries or controllable lifestyles. Only 17% thought it would be easy to find a residency in any hospital in the specialty they chose, reflecting the low rate (3%) of positive responses to the statement that ‘there are sufficient residency positions in all specialties’. Conclusions: This study demonstrated the utility of querying medical students about their market awareness when investigating the specialty selection process. Students’ poor rating of selection criteria, such as specialties with ease in finding jobs because they are suffering workforce shortages and have empty positions, provide insights and concerns for healthcare leaders. It should aid them in approaching the challenge of attracting students to specialties with workforce shortfalls.KEY MESSAGES This study demonstrated the feasibility and potential value of adding queries about market awareness when investigating the medical student specialty selection process. Medical students were more interested in a specialty that provides job security than one where it is easy to find work. It could be useful for the healthcare leadership and medical educators in all countries to learn what medical students know about their national healthcare system and whether they need to add more healthcare delivery and system subjects to their curricula.

    Original languageAmerican English
    Article number2201012
    JournalAnnals of Medicine
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Dec 2023

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


    • Choice of Medical Specialty
    • Healthcare System
    • Job Market
    • Job Security
    • Market Awareness
    • Medical Specialties
    • Medical Students


    Dive into the research topics of 'Does examining job market awareness among medical students provide insight into the specialty selection process?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this