Medical students' perspective of the motivations and limitations of studying medicine: a cross-sectional study from the United Arab Emirates

Leena Amiri, Fadwa Al Mugaddam, Syed Fahad Javaid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Incentives and disincentives to study medicine are complex concepts and may involve a dynamic balancing act between financial, personal, and social reasons. These processes have not been adequately explored in the Middle East. This study explores students' thoughts and feelings about studying medicine at the United Arab Emirates University, Al-Ain. This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted between April and August 2019. An online, self-administered questionnaire consisting of 22 questions was distributed to the students enrolled at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University. The survey questions focused on motivations to study medicine and limitations that prevent choosing medicine as a field of study. Results: Two hundred and five (33%) of 621 students in the six-year program completed the questionnaire. Forty-three percent of the responders were from the first two years of medical school. The decision to study medicine was reported as their own by 92%. Eighty-eight percent of the students did not consider gender a limitation for studying medicine, and 62% had a defined medical specialty to pursue. One-third considered quitting medicine, mainly during the first two years. Reported difficulties included mental health problems (stress, anxiety, and depression), social isolation ('having no life,' 'being lonely'), curriculum content (overwhelming workload), college condition/rules (poor condition of the hostels, lack of support, scant passion, and strict rules), and rational thinking (inadequate high-school preparation). Conclusions: These results justify implementing an effective counseling program, especially during the early academic years. The quality of high-school education requires careful thoughtfulness from the department of education with input from our medical schools. Other modifiable factors include the methods of assessment, available supportive resources, and extracurricular activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number57
JournalMiddle East Current Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Dropouts
  • Limitations
  • Medical Students
  • Medical education
  • Middle East
  • Motivations
  • United Arab Emirates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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