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Medical Students’ Studies And Career Expectations

May 22, 2012

In this “themed” issue, Deutsches Ärzteblatt International is focusing on medical students. Bernd Gibis, of the German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, and his coauthors investigate the question how medical students envisage their future professional lives as doctors (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109(18): 327). Another perspective is provided by Esther Ziemann and Jörg-Wilhelm Oestmann, who studied doctors’ role as academics and analyzed the publication activities of doctoral candidates at Berlin’s Charité University Medical School over a period of 10 years (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109(18): 333).

Gibis and coauthors evaluated more than 12 500 questionnaires in 2010. Almost all participants (96%) stated that compatibility of family and career was important to them–so important that more of them expressed an interest in working for an employer (92%) rather than starting their own private practice (77%). Among those who did aspire to working for themselves in private practice, the stated preference was for a specialist practice and an urban setting, rather than for a general practice in a rural setting. Envisaged obstacles to their future working lives included an overwhelming amount of administrative tasks and an imbalance between career and family–and when thinking about private practice, the financial risks involved were also perceived as an obstacle.

And how about academia? In order to answer this question, doctoral candidates from 1998, 2004, and 2008 were retrospectively captured in samples of more than 250 for each of the three years, and their publication activity was studied. The database used for the study was PubMed, and the quality parameter was the impact factor. Ziemann and Oestmann found that over the study period the number of publications per doctoral candidate had significantly increased, and the impact factors of the journals in which the candidates had published had also risen. The proportion of first authorships among doctoral candidates remained just about constant, at some 25%.

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