Selection or education? Medical school ranking and medical students’ speciality choice preferences in the United States
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Limited research exists on the influence of top-ranked medical schools on students' speciality choice. We surveyed medical students (n = 468) at eight medical schools in the United States including two ranked in the top 10. Significance tests and logistic regressions were used to determine the relationship between school ranking and preferences for various speciality attributes. An analysis was conducted separately for students in lower (1st and 2nd) years versus higher (3rd and 4th) years of medical school. Among students in lower years, speciality preferences by students in top-ranked schools were less likely to be influenced by the length of training or work-life balance compared to students in non-top-ranked schools. Among higher year students, speciality preference of students in top-ranked schools was more likely to be influenced by prestige than their peers, with no difference in the influence of other factors. We also found evidence that students in top-ranked schools were less likely to be interested in primary care specialities, and this was more pronounced among those in higher years. Our findings suggest that top-ranked schools may influence speciality choice through both selection and education, and initiatives aimed at changing the emphasis on speciality prestige at top-ranked schools could increase primary care physician output.