Purpose: To ensure a workforce of board-certified adolescent medicine (AM) specialists, the reasons why physicians choose this specialty must be understood. This study sought to develop a profile of AM fellows and to delineate common experiences that influenced them to seek AM training.
Methods: In April 2008, all AM fellows in Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education-accredited fellowships and those committed to begin training in July 2008 or after were electronically surveyed. Survey links were e-mailed to fellowship program directors who forwarded them to current and incoming fellows. The survey included questions regarding demographics, training experiences, career expectations, and attitudes and beliefs about AM. Open-ended questions allowed fellows to describe influential experiences. Means, medians, and percentages were calculated. Three independent reviewers identified themes in open-ended questions.
Results: Fifty-two respondents completed the survey: 42 of 59 (71%) current fellows, 10 incoming fellows (approximately 35%). Sixty-seven percent reported first exposure to AM before or during medical school and 31% decided to pursue AM before starting residency. Qualitative responses revealed the importance of interactions with those established in the field, the intrinsic appeal of adolescents and their clinical issues, and the inherent personal qualities of the respondents. Many spoke of multiple exposures to AM or adolescents through high school activities, volunteer work, personal experiences, or during medical training.
Conclusions: A variety of experiences with AM and/or adolescents is important in establishing interest in AM as a career. Serving as mentors and capitalizing on brief role modeling opportunities could promote further interest in AM fellowship training.