Analysis of senior medical students' preferences in specialty choice a survey in a medical school in northern Taiwan

Kuei Ing Wang, Pei Yeh Chang*, Chih-Young Hung, Yuan Huei Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Medical centers in Taiwan have found it difficult to recruit sufficient residents in the fields of surgery and gynecology & obstetrics over the last few years. It is important to realize why this phenomenon occurs. The purposes of this study are to investigate the important (critical) factors that Taiwan medical students currently consider when choosing their specialties, and to derive the relative weight of each factor. Methods: We constructed a three-tier analytic hierarchy process (AHP) model in the questionnaire sent out to 200 senior students at a medical school in northern Taiwan. The relative weight of each factor in the model was calculated, and the Kruskal-Wallis test as well as the t-test was applied to test for any significant differences in opinion among the students. Results: On the first tier of the AHP model, the aspect of "personal preferences and work achievement" had the highest weight of 0.455, followed by "specialty characteristics" with 0.281 and the "specialty training process" with 0.263 for all respondents. Of the 14 criteria on the second tier, "personal intelligence/ability preference" had the highest weight of 0.191, followed by "career opportunities" with 0.105 and "lifestyle after completion of training" with 0.093 for all respondents. As students got older, their perception of specialties changed. Students might modify their decision as their views of the various specialties evolve. Conclusions: "Personal intelligence and/or ability preference" is the most important factor, while the economic factors, such as future income, is ranked lower (7th place). Knowledge of the attitudes of a new generation of medical students could form the basis for the development of strategies to enhance the attractiveness of specialties that currently lack sufficient applicants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-353
Number of pages15
JournalChang Gung Medical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2007


  • Analytic hierarchy process
  • Medical students
  • Specialty choice

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