Support for mobilising medical students to join the COVID-19 pandemic emergency healthcare workforce: a cross-sectional questionnaire survey

BMJ Open. 2020 Sep 16;10(9):e039082. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039082.


Objective: To identify what motivates medical students to join a pandemic emergency healthcare workforce.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Aalborg University, Denmark.

Participants: All medical students.

Main outcome measures: Motivational points as perceived by the students to be important. Demographic characteristics and 11 motivational domains scored on a Visual Analog Scale from 0 (low) to 100 (high) responding to the question: 'To what degree are the following statements important for you to join a national emergency preparedness workforce?' The questionnaire was developed by an expert panel in a process of four iterations.

Results: A total of 486 students of 688 (70.6%) completed the survey within 7 days in March 2020. 80% had decided to join the pandemic emergency healthcare workforce. Ranked median scores for motivational statements in each domain were: care, 100; learn, 90; pride, 83; team, 77; needed, 75; safety, 75; supervision, 75; job, 73; duty, 66; salary, 62; historic, 50. Supervision (p<0.001), salary (p<0.001) and duty (p=0.001) were given increasing priority with advancing study years. Interestingly, students added that support by the university and clarification of study plans were priorities.

Conclusions: Results guide decision-makers and colleagues on how to motivate or reinforce medical students in joining the pandemic emergency healthcare workforce. Importantly, students emphasised protection for themselves.

Keywords: health policy; health services administration & management; medical education & training.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Betacoronavirus
  • Choice Behavior
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Education, Medical
  • Female
  • Health Workforce*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Volunteers / psychology*
  • Young Adult

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2