Changes in career decisions of internal medicine residents during training

Colin P. West, Carol Popkave, Henry J. Schultz, Steven E. Weinberger, Joseph C. Kolars

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about the timing and stability of internal medicine resident career decisions during the course of residency training. Objective: To assess changes in reported career plans among internal medicine trainees during their training. Design: Observational cohort using data collected as part of the annual Internal Medicine In-Training Examination (IM-ITE) survey. Setting: 411 internal medicine residency programs in North America participating in the annual IM-ITE. Participants: 2638 internal medicine residents who took the IM-ITE and responded to career plan questions on the test survey in all 3 years of training (2002-2004). Measurements: Self-reported career plans for individual residents during their postgraduate year 1 (PGY-1), postgraduate year 2 (PGY-2), and postgraduate year 3 (PGY-3) of training. Results: 2281 of 2638 residents (86.5%) identified a specific career plan in internal medicine during PGY-3. Of these 2281 residents, 1417 (62.1%) changed career plans at least once during the study period. Career plans reported by PGY-1 and PGY-2 residents matched subsequent PGY-3 plans for 55.1% and 68.4%, respectively. Six hundred eighty-six (26.0%) PGY-1, 278 (10.5%) PGY-2, and 205 (7.8%) PGY-3 residents remained undecided about their career plans at the time of the IM-ITE. Only 25.0% of graduating residents reported plans for a general internal medicine career. Limitations: The study cohort represents a convenience sample and is restricted to the subset of residents sitting for the IM-ITE and responding to career plan questions in all 3 years of postgraduate training. Career plans were assessed by self-report, and it is possible that residents who responded in all years of training differed from those who did not. Conclusions: In a subset of internal medicine residents in the class of 2004, career decisions changed late into residency training and enthusiasm for careers in general internal medicine remained low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)774-779
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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