Specialty Choice Influences Medical Student Research and Productivity

Justin G. Peacock, Joseph P. Grande

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Medical student research is a critical component of undergraduate medical education, but few studies have looked at the impact of medical student research on career paths, including specialty choice. In this study, the authors surveyed current and former Mayo medical students regarding their research experiences before, during, and after medical school to determine the relationship of medical student research and specialty choice. Methods: The authors created a survey about medical student research using the “Google Forms” software in accordance with an IRB-approved protocol. They surveyed 1133 current and former Mayo Medical School students from the 1976–2014 graduating classes, receiving 374 responses (33 % response rate). Results: The authors grouped the respondents’ specialties into historically competitive specialties (Group 2), which had higher average USMLE Step 1 and 2 scores (higher than 240) and higher proportions of AOA members (higher than 20 %), and the remaining specialties (Group 1). Group 2 respondents had a significantly stronger pre-medical school interest in research and produced more medical school and graduate medical training publications and presentations than Group 1. Overall, students reported that their specialty choice had a stronger impact on their medical research than the impact of their research on their specialty choice. Conclusions: Historically competitive specialties tend to have more students interested in conducting and efficient in producing research during medical school and graduate medical training compared with other specialties. Students report that specialty choice significantly impacts medical student research and academic productivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-132
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Academic productivity
  • Competitive specialty
  • Medical education
  • Medical student research
  • Specialty choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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