Motives influencing students' preferences for obstetrics and gynaecology speciality: A cross-sectional multi-site Swiss study

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2019 Jun:237:157-163. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2019.04.036. Epub 2019 Apr 22.


Objectives: Knowing and understanding the reasons why medical students choose postgraduate medical specialities are essential to help influence the workforce for a balanced national healthcare system. The objective of this study was to determine motivating factors for choosing a speciality career in general and, more specifically, for the choice of obstetrics and gynaecology (OBGYN) over surgery or general practice.

Study design: This study was based on prospectively collected data from a large research multi-site cross-sectional study. We sent a survey to medical students in the sixth year, which contained questions about demographics, choice of speciality and motives for choosing. We grouped the specialities into families of specialities and motives into motivating factors clustered by principal component analysis. We used a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) test to identify differences between motivating factors in speciality categories and gender. We performed logistic regression analyse to compare the choice of OBGYN to choices of surgery and general practice as well as undecided.

Results: A total of 1749 students responded with an average return rate of 56%. Our study revealed four motivating factors: "experiential", "relational", "occupational" and "scientific". Logistic regression analysis showed that the choice of OBGYN was particularly influenced by "experiential factor" (OR 1.5; 95%CI [1.2; 1.9]) and by gender (OR 4.5; 95%CI [2.2; 9.2]). When we compared the motivational profile of OBGYN to other speciality categories, OBGYN appeared to stand between surgery and general practice for the "experiential" and "relational" factors, more like surgery for the "occupational factor" and more like general practice for the "scientific factor".

Conclusion: This study highlighted the importance of "experiential factor" and gender for choosing OBGYN as a career. OBGYN seemed to stand between surgery and general practice from a Swiss students' point of view. These findings provide useful information for targeted interventions to promote OBGYN at the undergraduate level. Such interventions could include providing more hands-on experiences, improving integration of male students and encouraging student involvement in patient care.

Keywords: Career choice; Gynaecology and obstetrics; Medical education; Medical speciality; Medical students; Motivation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Career Choice*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Female
  • Gynecology / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Obstetrics / education*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Students, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires