Identifying characteristics that students, interns and residents look for in their role models

Margaret A. Elzubeir, Diaa E.E. Rizk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To identify characteristics which students, interns and residents look for in their role models. Methods: A 45-item self-administered questionnaire was sent to a sample (n = 96, response rate 80%) consisting of three groups: (1) students in years 3-6 of the medical curriculum (n = 66); (2) interns (n = 17) and (3) residents (n = 13). The questionnaire contained characteristics that participants might use to describe excellent role models, grouped under five general headings: personality, clinical, research and teaching skills, and community service. Other characteristics mentioned by study subjects were qualitatively analysed using content analysis. Results: Personality and teaching and clinical skills were ranked as the top three factors, and research skills and community service as the least important factors by 79 (82%) respondents. Qualitative analysis of characteristics described by respondents for their role models yielded 21 characteristics. These were clustered into three main themes: role models as teacher, physician and person. The most frequently mentioned characteristics were personal characteristics such as positive, respectful attitudes toward patients and their families, and staff and colleagues; honesty; politeness; enthusiasm; competence, and knowledge. Females rated nine personal characteristics significantly higher than males (P < 0.05). Interns and residents valued teaching enthusiasm and competence significantly more than students (P = 0.01). Role models had a strong influence on the specialty choice of 53 (55%) respondents. Conclusion: Knowing the characteristics of excellent role models should help medical educators to formulate strategies to recruit, retain and develop them. Increasing exposure of a variety of excellent role models to aspiring medical practitioners should be encouraged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-277
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Delivery of health care
  • Education, medical, manpower
  • Model United Arab Emirates
  • Questionnaires, role

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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