Determining Factors Influencing Specialty Preferences of Iranian Medical Doctors: A Qualitative Study

Yaser Sarikhani, Sulmaz Ghahramani, Mohsen Bayati, Farhad Lotfi, Peivand Bastani

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Background: The medical specialty choice of physicians directly affects the healthcare system, community wellbeing, and their own professional life. It is therefore important to identify its underlying factors to predict such medical career choices and to draw up a comprehensive evidence-based public health policy and health human resources planning. The present qualitative study aimed to identify these determinants of career choices through semi-structured interviews with medical doctors in the context of country-specific social and cultural characteristics. Methods: The present qualitative study was carried out in 2019-2020 at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences (Shiraz, Iran). The target population was medical students, junior doctors, and medical residents. The purposive sampling method was used to recruit the participants and sampling continued until data saturation, i.e., no new information could be extracted. Data were collected through individual, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews and analyzed using the conventional content analysis method. Inductive thematic analysis was used to interpret the data based on which a thematic map was developed illustrating the factors influencing medical specialty preferences in Iran. Data trustworthiness was assessed according to the criteria proposed by Guba and Lincoln. Results: Analysis of the interview data resulted in three main themes and fourteen sub-themes. The main themes were “Personal determinants”, “Career-related factors”, and “Interpersonal influences”. The most important sub-themes were personal interests, income, and prestige. Conclusion: The determinants influencing the specialty preferences of Iranian medical doctors are identified. Our findings will facilitate the development of a comprehensive evidence-based public health policy, health human resources planning, and appropriate medical education policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-359
Number of pages10
JournalIranian Journal of Medical Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


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