For first year medical students, enjoying work is the most important lifestyle domain in choosing a specialty, according to a study published in Academic Medicine.

Kimberly L. Clinite, from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional survey of first-year medical students (1,020 respondents) from 11 medical schools. Using a five-point Likert scale, respondents rated the importance of five domains of lifestyle and 21 characteristics related to specialty selection. Students were classified into five groups based on their interest in primary care (PC).

The researchers found that “type of work I am doing” was the highest-rated lifestyle domain (mean, 4.8) and “being satisfied with the job” was the highest-rated specialty-selection characteristic (mean, 4.7). The lowest-rated domain was “availability of practice locations in rural areas” (mean, 2.0). Interest in PC correlated positively with the importance of “opportunities to work with underserved populations” while an inverse correlation was seen with “average salary earned” (effect sizes of 0.98 and 0.94, respectively).

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“First year students valued enjoying work,” the authors write. “Examining the determinants of enjoyable work may inform interventions to help students attain professional fulfillment in PC.”