Education for Health

: 2013  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 68-

Career intentions of medical students

Viroj Wiwanitkit 
 Visiting Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Nis, Serbia and Hainan Medical University, China

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Viroj Wiwanitkit
Wiwanitkit House, Bangkhae, Bangkok, Thailand

How to cite this article:
Wiwanitkit V. Career intentions of medical students.Educ Health 2013;26:68-68

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Wiwanitkit V. Career intentions of medical students. Educ Health [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Apr 21 ];26:68-68
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Dear Sir,

The recent report on "Career Intentions of Medical Students Trained in Six Sub-Saharan African Countries" is interesting. Burch et al. concluded that "The career intentions of African medical students are not aligned with the continent's health workforce needs". [1] Similar problems can be seen in many developing countries. For example in Thailand, a developing tropical country in Southeast Asia, insufficient numbers of rural physicians is still a major public health threat. The number of physicians in rural and non-rural areas is still in imbalance, where 90% of Thailand is rural but only 40% of physicians practice in rural areas. [2] To help overcome the shortage of physicians in rural areas, the implementation of rural community medicine experiences as pre-requisite for graduation has been implemented for over 40 years. [2],[3] Five main courses are included in the Thai medical curriculum: (a) health and demographic survey; (b) analysis of community health programmes; (c) planning of community health care; (d) clerkship in community health and (e) internships in community health. [3] Additionally, newly graduated medical students are required to perform 3 years of service in rural areas, or they have to pay an 'exception'. [2],[4] Despite this mandatory system for rural placement, the problem still persists. According to a recent study of medical student attitudes, those who mentioned "do not want to work in rural or community areas" increased from 25.0% in 2008 to 29.7% in 2010. [5]

The interesting question is how to promote the social service intention of medical students. Whether the present medical curriculum needs adjustment to promote more positive attitudes of medical students remains a question. Mandatory rural service for healthcare workers might be a possible continuing response for the problem of insufficient medical personnel in several countries. [2] However, usually rural placement alone is not enough for retention and long-term impact. For example in Thailand, the rate of newly graduated physicians leaving rural after three-year mandatory rural work is extremely high, reflective of the failure of the present mandatory system to retain new physicians in rural areas. [2] In addition to promoting service intention, Kanchanachitra et al. proposed that "retention strategies need to be integrated into ongoing efforts to strengthen health systems". [6] Other solutions that might be tried include special track salary promotion for rural physicians, local medical training programmes [7] and rural track recruitment and training. [8] It is a complex problem requiring multiple approaches for solution.


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