Few studies have explored the factors associated with the preference of medical students to pursue a specific specialty, and even fewer have observed how these preferences and factors change over time.Methods:
A longitudinal survey of medical students was administered at the beginning of first year, second year, and clerkships from 2013–2016. Surveys included demographics and factors associated with their choice of specialty.Results:
Response rates were 78–94%. Students with mentors and research experience in any specialty were 3.4 times (P < .001) more likely to choose surgery by their third year of medical school. Surgical research experience on the first- and second-year surveys was associated with 39 (P < .001) and 10 times (P < .001) greater odds of preferring surgical specialties on their third-year survey. Medical students who had a surgery mentor during the first and second years were associated with 4 (P = .024) and 13 times (P < .001) greater odds of preferring surgical specialties on their third-year survey.Conclusion:
Students who begin surgical research during their first year and develop relationships with surgeon mentors during their second year are significantly more likely to maintain an interest in surgical specialties.