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Attitudes Toward Family Medicine Among Students Choosing Other Primary Care Specialties. Fam Med 2020 06;52(7):491-496



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85087676102   1 Citation


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Little is known about how medical students choose between primary care specialties. We compared the attitudes toward family medicine of medical students intending to practice primary care but not family medicine (PCNFM), with students intending to practice family medicine (FM) and those intending nonprimary care (NPC) careers.

METHODS: The Family Medicine Attitudes Questionnaire (FMAQ) was distributed to 2,644 fourth-year medical students at 16 medical schools in spring 2017. Respondents were stratified by career intention. In this secondary data analysis, we used descriptive statistics to characterize responses to each questionnaire item and FMAQ total score, and analysis of variance with Bonferroni post hoc analyses to compare category and item mean responses.

RESULTS: Of 2,644 fourth-year medical students who received the FMAQ, 1,188 (41.8%) submitted usable responses. The 14-item FMAQ has a maximum score of 70. Mean total scores differed by category: 59.05 for FM, 52.88 for NPC, and 54.83 for PCNFM (F=108.96, P<.01); the differences between each possible pairing were significant (P<.05). Comparing the responses of students intending PCNFM careers with those of students intending NPC careers, there were no differences in mean responses for 8 of 14 FMAQ items. Responses of students intending PCNFM careers were similar to students intending FM for only 4 of 14 items (P<.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Fourth-year students intending to match into PCNFM have attitudes toward FM that more closely approximate the attitudes of NPC students than the attitudes of FM students. Future research should explore implications for curricular development, student mentorship, and career advising.

Author List

Prunuske J, Kang H, Wendling AL, Edwards-Johnson J, Phillips JP


Jacob P. Prunuske MD Assistant Dean, Professor in the Medical School Regional Campuses department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Career Choice
Family Practice
Primary Health Care
Students, Medical
Surveys and Questionnaires