The compatibility of future doctors' career intentions with changing health care demands

M.A.G. van Offenbeek, D.J. Kiewiet, M. Oosterhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In the Netherlands the medical education system is in the process of being transformed to establish a more demand-oriented health care system. This transformation may entail the occupational restructuring of the medical profession. Meanwhile, on the supply side, the career intentions of future doctors are also changing.

Objectives: We aimed to categorise medical students' prevailing career intentions and to examine to what extent newly proposed medical occupations that may be part of the transformation process correspond with these career intentions.

Methods: We carried out expert interviews and a feedback round to gain input for a survey among students. From the demand perspective, 11 experts proposed non-traditional medical occupations and evaluated these on the basis of job characteristics relevant to a doctor's career choice. Subsequently, students from 5 universities filled out a questionnaire to rate these job characteristics by their importance and the proposed occupations' attractiveness.

Results: Four different clusters of career intentions were categorised as patient-oriented expert, career-oriented specialist, lifestyle-oriented generalist, and balance-seeking realist. These clusters differ in terms of the ways in which students feel attracted to the proposed occupations. The career-oriented specialists feel least attracted and the lifestyle-oriented generalists most attracted to the occupations.

Discussion: The experts' call for shorter postgraduate programmes to educate patient-oriented doctors partly matches students' career intentions. Most students share the intention of obtaining a direct care position that provides ample task variation, which may explain the appeal of the occupations 'emergency doctor' and 'basic specialist'. The limited interest in specific patient groups suggests a need for more exposure to the occupations linked to these groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-538
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2006


  • humans
  • career choice
  • students, medical, psychology
  • cross-sectional studies
  • Netherlands
  • job satisfaction


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