Reducing the physician workforce crisis: Career choice and graduate medical education reform in an emerging Arab Country

Halah Ibrahim, Satish Chandrasekhar Nair, Sami Shaban, Margaret El-Zubeir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: In today’s interdependent world, issues of physician shortages, skill imbalances and maldistribution affect all countries. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a nation that has historically imported its physician manpower, there is sustained investment in educational infrastructure to meet the population’s healthcare needs. However, policy development and workforce planning are often hampered by limited data regarding the career choice of physicians-in-training. The purpose of this study was to determine the specialty career choice of applicants to postgraduate training programs in the UAE and factors that influence their decisions, in an effort to inform educational and health policy reform. To our knowledge, this is the first study of career preferences for UAE residency applicants. Methods: All applicants to residency programs in the UAE in 2013 were given an electronic questionnaire, which collected demographic data, specialty preference, and factors that affected their choice. Differences were calculated using the t-test statistic. Results: Of 512 applicants, 378 participated (74%). The most preferred residency programs included internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine and family medicine. A variety of clinical experience, academic reputation of the hospital, and international accreditation were leading determinants of career choice. Potential future income was not a significant contributing factor. Discussion: Applicants to UAE residency programs predominantly selected primary care careers, with the exception of obstetrics. The results of this study can serve as a springboard for curricular and policy changes throughout the continuum of medical education, with the ultimate goal of training future generations of primary care clinicians who can meet the country’s healthcare needs. As 65% of respondents trained in medical schools outside of the UAE, our results may be indicative of medical student career choice in countries throughout the Arab world.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)82-88
Number of pages7
JournalEducation for Health: Change in Learning and Practice
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2016

Keywords

  • Career choice
  • Educational policy
  • International medical education
  • Medical education
  • Workforce planning

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