Biomedical Research

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Knowledge and attitude of Saudi medical students towards the family medicine specialty during their family medicine course and its effect on their career plans: A comparative study

The field of family medicine is emerging as a cornerstone for the providing comprehensive, quality care to a diverse population. The importance of family medicine in Saudi Arabia has also rapidly increased due to the growing morbidity and mortality for preventable diseases. Therefore, it is necessary to train qualified and competent family medicine practitioners, and their scarcity in Saudi Arabia should be addressed on a priority basis. The objective of this study is to assess the knowledge of Saudi medical students about the family medicine specialty and their attitude towards selecting family medicine as a career. A quantitative method is used to assess the knowledge and attitudes of fourth year medical students training in a family medicine clinical course in King Saud University as part of their curriculum during (March 2015-May 2015). The study participants were evaluated through questionnaire-based responses before and after commencing their clinical rotation training. The study findings deduced that the family medicine clinical course has a significant effect on medical students' career decisions, and this course is beneficial in improving students’ knowledge of family medicine (P=0.009). The study responses suggested that students become more determined to practice family medicine after completing their clinical training (P=0.034). Many of the study participants have chosen family medicine as a career after acquiring extensive knowledge on the subject (58%). Approximately 81% of the participants believe that it is an integral part of the healthcare system in Saudi Arabia. The top reasons why students included family medicine in their career plans were observations of the physician-patient interaction in this specialty (66.7%); the faculty staff’s attitudes, interests and compassion (61.5%); and the enjoyment of the family medicine rotation (51.3%). Based on the study findings that the family medicine clinical rotation was highly beneficial for medical students in terms of improving their knowledge about and attitude toward the field, the choice of family medicine as a career was not affected by the course. Instead, the student’s personal perception and passion to pursue family medicine as a practice influences the student’s career choice.

Author(s): Nada A Alyousefi