Marija Petek Ster, Polona Selic
Background: Among a variety of complex factors affecting a decision to take family medicine as a future specialisation, this study focused on demographic characteristics and assessed empathic attitudes in final year medical students. Methods: A convenience sampling method was employed in two consecutive academic years of final year medical students at the Faculty of Medicine in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in May 2014 and May 2015. A modified version of the 16-item Jefferson Scale of Empathy – Student Version (JSE-S) was administered to examine self-reported empathic attitudes. An intended career in family medicine was reported using a five-point Likert scale. Results: Of the 175 medical school seniors in study year 2013/14, there were 64 (36.6%) men and 111 (63.4%) women, while in the second group (study year 2014/5), there were 68 (40.5%) men and 100 (59.5%) women; 168 students in total. They were 24.9±1.6 (generation 2013/4) and 24.9±1.7 (generation 2014/15) years old. Thirty-six percent of the students in the academic year 2013/14 intended to choose family medicine as a future career, and a similar proportion in academic year 2014/15 (31.7%). Gender (χ2=6.763, p=0.034) and empathic attitudes (c2=14.914; p=0.001) had a bivariate association with an intended career choice of family medicine in the 2014/15 generation. When logistic regression was applied to this group of students, an intended career choice in family medicine was associated with empathic attitudes (OR 1.102, 95% CI 1.040-1.167, p=0.001), being single (OR 3.659, 95% CI 1.150-11.628, p=0.028) and the father having only primary school education (OR 142.857 95% CI 1.868, p=0.025), but not with gender (OR 1.117, 95% CI 0.854-1.621, p=0.320). Conclusion: The level of students` father’s education, and not living in an intimate partnership, increased the odds on senior medical students to choose family medicine, yet we expected higher JSE-S scores to be associated with interest in this speciality. To deepen our understanding, this study should be repeated to give us solid grounded insight into the determinants of career choice; associations with gender in particular need to be re-tested.
[Mater Sociomed 2017; 29(2.000): 143-148]
Keywords: medical students, empathic attitudes, father’s educational status, career choice, family medicine