Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 193–202

Can Self-declared Personal Values be Used to Identify those with Family Medicine Career Aspirations?

  • Renée A. Beach
  • Kevin W. Eva
  • Harold I. Reiter



Self-declaration of personal values has been suggested as a means of identifying students with greater predilection for future primary care careers. While statistically significant differences have been demonstrated, absolute differences between those interested in primary care and those interested in specialist careers tend to be small. This study’s objective was to determine whether limited differences can nevertheless be used to identify those with particular interest in primary care.


Schwartz’ values were submitted to a paired comparison design in which respondents were asked to identify the value they held most dearly for possible pairings of values. 88 medical school applicants, 57 first year medical students, 78 final year medical students, and 34 admissions interviewers participated. Applicant and medical student subgroups were analyzed as a whole and as a function of self-identified career interest (i.e., primarily interested in Family medicine or other specialty careers).


The values statements were remarkably consistent (r > 0.90) between groups, regardless of which subgroups were analyzed.


Despite apparent differences in the literature between those interested in primary care and those interested in other specialist careers, the differences are small and do not correlate with career aspirations in a way that could inform admissions decisions.


family medicine personality recruitment specialty choice 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renée A. Beach
    • 1
  • Kevin W. Eva
    • 2
  • Harold I. Reiter
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Undergraduate MD program, Program for Educational Research and Development, MDCL 3522McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Program for Educational Research and Development, MDCL 3522McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Program for Educational Research and Development, MDCL 3522McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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