An investigation of the factors affecting the career choice of selected health-care students (physiotherapy, chiropractic, medicine and occupational therapy) in KwaZulu Natal
Maharaj, Sanvir H.
MetadataShow full item record
The aim of this study was to investigate the factors affecting the career choice of selected health-care students (physiotherapy, chiropractic, medicine and occupational therapy) in KwaZulu Natal. Multiple reasons exist for choosing careers. However, the set of factors involved when students commit to at least 4 to 7 years of their lives to these alternative and mainstream health care professions are of particular interest to this study. This was a demographic-epidemiological, cross-sectional survey-type quantitative study, based on a pre-validated questionnaire which was administered to the participants. The questionnaire was distributed to 29 first year chiropractic students of the Durban University of Technology, 32 first year physiotherapy and 22 occupational therapy students of the University of KwaZulu Natal, and 55 first year medical students of the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine. The results revealed that parents were a major factor influencing career choice (68.1%), as were significant other people (42%). However, siblings, peers and television did not have a major influence. Only television had a differential influence on the student groups (p<0.001). The medical students (20%) were influenced by television to a greater extent than the other professions. The majority of respondents obtained information from professionals visiting schools (56.5%), while family and guidance counsellors were also important sources of information (52.2% and 50.7% respectively). These results also revealed that chiropractic students were more likely to use the Internet to find out about careers than the other student groups. Previous past experience with a professional from their chosen career field did have a relatively strong influence (46.4%) whereas physiotherapists and chiropractors were more likely than the other two groups to be influenced by a professional from that career. V Working with people was the most important personal factor influencing career choice. The altruistic factor of helping others was the second most important factor. The least important personal factors were prestige, variety, lifestyle and enjoyment of working with their hands. Another result indicated that the ability to define personal goals was important for medical students but it was not very important for occupational therapy students. The joy of working with their hands was more important for chiropractic and physiotherapy students. The motivation to help others was more important to occupational therapy students. Finally, the results showed that prestige was most important for chiropractic students. A good work atmosphere was the most important work-related factor (75.4%), followed by the ability to run their own office (64.5%) and working conditions (55.1%). Of least importance was the presence of blood (7.2%). “The ability to run your own office” was significantly different between the student groups (p=0009) and chiropractic students were significantly influenced by this factor.