Specialty preferences and motivating factors: A national survey on medical students from five UAE medical schools

Mahera Abdulrahman, Maryam Makki, Sami Shaaban, Maryam Al Shamsi, Manda Venkatramana, Nabil Sulaiman, Manal M. Sami, Dima K. Abdelmannan, Abduljabbar M.A. Salih, Laila Alshaer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Workforce planning is critical for being able to deliver appropriate health service and thus is relevant to medical education. It is, therefore, important to understand medical students’ future specialty choices and the factors that influence them. This study was conducted to identify, explore, and analyze the factors influencing specialty preferences among medical students of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Methods: A multiyear, multicenter survey of medical student career choice was conducted with all five UAE medical schools. The questionnaire consisted of five sections. Chi-squared tests, regression analysis, and stepwise logistic regression were performed. Results: The overall response rate was 46% (956/2079). Factors that students reported to be extremely important when considering their future career preferences were intellectual satisfaction (87%), work–life balance (71%), having the required talent (70%), and having a stable and secure future (69%). The majority of students (60%) preferred internal medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, or family Medicine. The most common reason given for choosing a particular specialty was personal interest (21%), followed by flexibility of working hours (17%). Discussion: The data show that a variety of factors inspires medical students in the UAE in their choice of a future medical specialty. These factors can be used by health policymakers, university mentors, and directors of residency training programs to motivate students to choose specialties that are scarce in the UAE and therefore better serve the health-care system and the national community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28406108
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
JournalEducation for Health: Change in Learning and Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2016


  • Career choice
  • Medical students
  • Specialty preference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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