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34 (
); 188-188

Enhancing students’ motivations through early exposure in actual settings is key

Center for Medical Education and International Relations, Faculty of Medicine, Hokkaido Universityy, Sapporo, Japan
Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 License, which allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as the author is credited and the new creations are licensed under the identical terms.

How to cite this article: Murakami M, Matoba K, Hyodoh H. Enhancing students’ motivations through early exposure in actual settings is key. Natl Med J India 34:2021;188.

When we read Ananthamurthy and Mani’s article,1 we were delighted that they conducted a study similar to our interviews, focusing on motivations and deriving similar results, albeit with a completely different set of interviewees.

Shortage of health workers has long been a global issue.2 While research on developing countries has accelerated,3 we empirically posit that recruiting and retaining health workers continue to be difficult in developed countries, as well. This was the rationale for our survey. Furthermore, to recruit future health workers, it is important to find potential students with proper motivation and enhance their motivations.4

We conducted interviews with 21 newly enrolled students who were interested in primary healthcare. Our interviews focused on the factors affecting motivation for this career choice. The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, codified and grouped into similar categories. We identified six factors: (i) intrinsic properties; (ii) longing for social contributions; (iii) influence of past important events; (iv) existence of role models; (v) advice from close relatives; and (vi) future stable working environment (Table I).

TABLE I.: Motivational factors influencing career choice as health workers
Factor Explanation and excerpts
Intrinsic properties Personal interests, individual characteristics and innate ability: ‘I’ve been wanting to interact with people. That’s why I want to work in a hospital (not a research lab).’
Longing for social contributions Altruism with the desire to help those in need: ‘I can support my patients. Social contribution is priority.’
Influence of past important events Confronted with and impressed by significant events:‘When my grandfather had Parkinson’s disease and died of pneumonia, I wished I could have cured his illness.’
Existence of role models Encounter with someone who is enthusiastic and dedicated to work: ‘My father is a doctor. When I was a child, I saw the way he treated a patient. I felt he was so cool.’
Advice from close relatives Recommendation from relatives including parents or siblings: ‘When I couldn’t make a career choice, my mother recommended that I become a radiographer, not a laboratory technician.’
Future stable working environment Taking life events and work–life balance into account: ‘Getting a qualification of nurse is important. Even if I become pregnant and take maternity leave, I can return to work.’

Ananthamurthy and Mani found important negative factors in their analysis, including pathology being an ‘invisible speciality’, being ‘unaware of the pathologist’s role’, ‘social unacceptance’ and ‘lack of awareness regarding training curriculum’, amongst students aspiring for a pathology career.1 Although our survey was not regarding a pathology career, we were surprised to obtain similar results. Our findings revealed that if students can find ‘visible’ role models and feel ‘social contributions/acceptance’, their motivations are enhanced. Students can attain these factors through early exposure in actual settings. A previous study found that enhancing intrinsic motivation is important for primary care physicians to sustain community-based education.5 If our findings apply to Ananthamurthy and Mani’s study,1 ‘affecting motivation through early exposure’ may be effective in recruiting and retaining potential students.


We thank all the students who participated in our interviews.

Conflicts of interest

None declared


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