What factors influence medical students to enter a career in general practice? A scoping review

Ir J Med Sci. 2020 Aug 13. doi: 10.1007/s11845-020-02345-w. Online ahead of print.


Background: Internationally, healthcare systems are providing more community-based care. Consequently, there is an increasing demand for GPs and other healthcare professionals to work in primary care and this has implications for undergraduate medical education.

Aims: In this scoping review, we aim to examine 'What factors positively influence medical students to pursue a career in general practice?'

Methods: The five-stage framework developed by Arksey and O'Malley (2005) was utilized to review the extant literature. Fourteen records were included in the review.

Results: Medical students are influenced to pursue a career in general practice due to curriculum factors such as exposure, positive clinical rotation experiences, positive GP role models and maintaining a positive view of the profession at an early stage of their time as a medical student. Intrinsic factors such as student attributes, the influence of family, friends and the community where people live and having a strong orientation to social concerns were factors that make students more likely to pursue a career in the specialty. There is a shortage of literature from an Irish context examining the career intentions of medical students specifically. However, those studies which were conducted in Ireland reported similar findings to those conducted elsewhere.

Conclusions: Curriculum and personal factors have a key role in influencing students to pursue a career in general practice. As much of the existing research involves cross-sectional designs involving small numbers of participants, further research adopting prospective, quasi-experimental designs involving larger cohorts is a priority.

Keywords: Career intentions; General practice; Ireland; Medical education; Review.

Publication types

  • Review