Factors that impact medical student and house-staff career interest in brain related specialties

Abdulbaset H. Kamour, Dong Y. Han, David M. Mannino, Amy B. Hessler, Sachin Kedar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose There is a national shortage of physicians in brain related specialties (neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry), with fewer students training in these specialties. This study explored socio-economic and experiential factors that determined medical trainees' interest in brain related specialties. Method Medical students and house-staff at a state university medical school completed a 46-item questionnaire sent as an anonymous email survey. Results Survey response rate was 22% (n = 258). Eighty-eight (34.1%) trainees were interested in brain related specialties. Prior neuroscience experience (29.6%) and effective medical school neuroscience courses (23.9%) were identified as important by those interested in brain related specialties, while “neurophobia” was reported by 30% of those not interested. Multivariate regression model showed that effective college neuroscience course increased the likelihood for interest in brain related specialties (OR = 2.28, 95% CI 1.22, 4.28). Factors which decreased the likelihood included parent's possessing professional degree (OR = 0.37, 95% CI 0.17, 0.80), personal annual income > $50,000 (OR = 0.40, 0.18, 0.87) and current debt level ≥ $100,000 (OR = 0.33, 0.17, 0.64). The proportion of trainees interested in brain related specialties decreased from 51.7% (1st year medical students) to 27% (4th year students) and 25.3% among house-staff (χ2 test of trend p = 0.001). Conclusions Socioeconomic (current personal debt and annual income) and experiential factors (college neuroscience course) influence a medical trainee's interest in brain related specialties. Career guidance and improved, better and early exposure to neurosciences may help mitigate trend for decreased interest in brain related specialties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-317
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
StatePublished - Oct 15 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Brain related specialties
  • Career
  • Education
  • Neurophobia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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