Medical students, money, and career selection: students' perception of financial factors and remuneration in family medicine

Fam Med. 2009 Feb;41(2):105-10.


Background and objectives: Medical students have had a declining interest in family medicine as a career. Some studies have shown a small inverse relationship between debt levels and primary care, but it is unclear how students perceive remuneration in different specialties and how these perceptions might influence career choice.

Methods: Medical students at one school were surveyed to understand their perceptions of physician remuneration and to gain insight into how these perceptions might affect career selection.

Results: Response rate was 72% (560/781 students). Students' estimates of physician income were accurate throughout training, with the overall estimate for family medicine being lower than the actual income by only $10,656. The vast majority of students agreed with the statement that family physicians get paid too little (85%-89% of each class). The importance of payment as a factor in career decision making increased with higher debt and with advancing training.

Conclusions: Students are able to accurately predict income by specialty from an early stage of training and have a negative perception of income in family medicine. The perception that family physicians make too little money could be an important driver--or at least a modifier--in the lack of interest in family medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Career Choice*
  • Economics, Medical
  • Education, Medical / economics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Male
  • Specialization
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult