Medical students' views on selecting paediatrics as a career choice

Eur J Pediatr. 2011 Sep;170(9):1193-9. doi: 10.1007/s00431-011-1467-9. Epub 2011 Apr 13.


Despite increasing numbers of UK medical students, the number of trainees selecting paediatrics as their specialty choice has decreased. Previous studies show that most students will choose their ultimate career during undergraduate training. We therefore explored the views of students in the final year at Birmingham University about a career in paediatrics. Students completed a 27-item questionnaire during the penultimate week of their paediatric clerkship (PC) and 97% responded (127/131). Prior to the PC, 29% (37/127) of students had considered a career in paediatrics, rising to 50% (63/127) after the PC (p < 0.001). Students felt that paediatricians were enthusiastic and keen on teaching, and the ward working atmosphere was good. However, students perceived paediatrics as a difficult specialty with high competition for training posts. Students felt their paediatric experience was too limited and advice was needed on paediatric careers early in undergraduate training. This study confirmed that focusing on improving the PC is not sufficient if we are to inspire medical students to consider a career in paediatrics. Exposure to the specialty is needed from year 1 of undergraduate training along with career advice to dispel current myths about specialty training. Students would then be able to make more informed career decisions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Career Choice*
  • Clinical Clerkship
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatrics* / education
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom