Inclination towards a research career among first year medical students: an international study
Introduction: The importance of fostering clinicians who are also scientists is well recognized. It is of value to assess medical students' inclination towards and self-perceived readiness for a research career, as this has implications on the future development of such individuals. Methods: A questionnaire was self-administered to all consenting first year medical students from eleven universities in ten countries. Questions were asked pertaining to inclination towards research careers, confidence in research methodology and ability to understand medical literature. Results: A total of 1354 questionnaires were completed, with a mean response rate of 76.5%. While 24.8% students expressed an interest in pursuing a research career, 48.3% were undecided. Students with prior research experience and students who were attending graduate medical school programmes were more likely to have an interest in a research career after graduation. Males were more interested in learning about biostatistics than females, while the reverse was true for learning about research ethics. Discussion: Most students in their first year of medical school are not inclined towards a research career. This finding applies internationally, across different countries and medical school systems. Thus, the onus is on medical schools to help transform the perception and attitudes of their students during the course of their training, so that a greater proportion will be interested in and ultimately pursue research careers.