OBJECTIVES: To better understand the reasons medical students select or avoid a career in neurology by using a qualitative methodology to explore these factors, with the long-term objective of attracting more graduates to the field. METHODS: In 2017, 27 medical students and 15 residents participated in 5 focus groups, and 33 fourth-year medical students participated in semistructured individual interviews. Participants were asked predefined open-ended questions about specialty choice, experiences in their basic neuroscience course and neurology clerkship, and perceptions about the field. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. We used a flexible coding methodology to generate themes across groups and interviews. RESULTS: Four main analytical themes emerged: (1) early and broad clinical exposure allows students to "try on" neurology and experience the variety of career options; (2) preclerkship experiences and a strong neuroscience curriculum lay the foundation for interest in the field; (3) personal interactions with neurology providers may attract or deter students from considering the specialty; and (4) persistent stereotypes about neurologists, neurology patients, and treatment options harm student perceptions of neurology. CONCLUSION: Efforts to draw more students to neurology may benefit from focusing on clinical correlations during preclerkship neuroscience courses and offering earlier and more diverse clinical experiences, including hands-on responsibilities whenever possible. Finally, optimizing student interactions with faculty and residents and reinforcing the many positive aspects of neurology are likely to favorably affect student perceptions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology