Myers-Briggs type and medical specialty choice: a new look at an old question

Teach Learn Med. 2000 Winter;12(1):14-20. doi: 10.1207/S15328015TLM1201_3.


Background: Career development of health professionals is one of many uses of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), with many studies reported from the 1950s. Since 1977, no large-scale effort to collect data on the medical school population has been reported.

Purpose: To determine (a) changes in MBTI profiles of medical students over time, (b) differences between the profiles of men and women and the effects of the increased number of women in medical school, (c) possible associations between type and career choices, and (d) possible type differences of graduates selecting primary care and specialties.

Method: Twelve U.S. schools with data on 3,987 students contributed to a database of their graduates' MBTI type and specialty choice at Match.

Results: Compared with data from the 1950s, the type distribution of physicians has remained fairly stable, save for a trend toward more judging types. Women in medicine today are more representative of the general population on the feeling dimension than earlier, when medicine was more male-dominated. Women are more likely than men to choose primary care specialties, as are those with preference for introversion and feeling. Feeling types choose Family Medicine significantly more often than thinking types; male, extraverted, and thinking types choose surgical specialties. Of those selecting nonprimary care, male, extraverted, and thinking types choose surgical specialties significantly more than women, introverted, and feeling types.

Conclusion: Type remains useful for understanding how some aspects of personality relate to medical specialty choice.

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Medicine*
  • Personality Inventory*
  • Personality*
  • Sex Factors
  • Specialization*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*