A Cross-Sectional Study of Attitudes and Factors That Promote Medical Student Participation in Professional Medical Societies

WMJ. 2020 Dec;119(4):263-269.

Abstract

Purpose: Medical student participation in professional medical societies is an understudied extracurricular activity. The purpose of this study is to assess student characteristics associated with participation and their attitudes toward professional medical societies.

Methods: A cross-sectional study using a 21-item survey questionnaire was administered to Wisconsin medical students in the fall of 2019. Regression analysis was used to find factors associated with participation.

Results: A total of 308 questionnaire responses were collected with a response rate of 17.4%. Sixty-three percent of respondents participated in a professional medical society, and the most important reasons for participating included professional development, networking, and advocacy. Participation was positively associated with age (OR = 1.16; 95% CI, 1.01 - 1.33); years of medical education (OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.18 - 1.69); number of memberships in professional medical societies (OR = 2.02; 95% CI, 1.61 - 2.53); number of extracurricular advocacy events attended outside of professional medical societies (OR = 1.62; 95% CI, 1.17 - 2.23); belief that participation is important for professional development (OR = 1.76; 95% CI, 1.39 - 2.23), patients (OR = 1.51; 95% CI, 1.23 - 1.86), and medical education (OR = 1.43; 95% CI, 1.19 - 1.71); and the desire to participate as a physician (OR = 1.53; 95% CI, 1.25 - 1.88). Participation was negatively associated with male gender (OR = 0.51; 95% CI, 0.27 - 0.95).

Conclusions: Medical students who participate in professional medical societies believe participation supports their education, their patients, and their professional development. Further study is required to elucidate reasons for nonparticipation.