Undergraduate Student Interest in Healthcare Career in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic

Author(s): Stephanie Y Jo, Jingxin Li, Ananya Dewan, Yu-Chia Cheng, Haoxiang Hou, Ronnie A Sebro.

Objectives: The healthcare profession has been long considered an excellent career choice. Pre-medical experience is documented to be important in shaping future medical landscape. In the wake of the pandemic, there has been intense media spotlight on the healthcare profession and change in academic environment, necessitating analyses of student experience. This project aims to assess change in undergraduate student interest in healthcare career using cross-sectional survey study.

Methods: The project was approved by our Institutional Review Board. Voluntary survey collected data on demographics, socioeconomics, media exposure, academic environment, and change in interest in a healthcare profession. Survey was distributed through the university undergraduate pre-health listserv. Total of 297 responses were obtained. Descriptive statistics including Fisher’s exact test were applied in the analysis.

Results: Majority of the respondents were Asians (54.9%), second generation immigrants (52.2%), and female (73.4%). Large proportion of the respondents were negatively affected by the pandemic, with losing a job or internship personally (42.1%) or a family member or a friend (62.6%). Students had mixed response to online learning environment, with 27.3% of students noting no change, 40.4% students noting increased difficulty, and 32.3% students noting decreased difficulty of classes. During the pandemic, 47.5% of students noted increased interest in pursuing healthcare career. The change in interest in healthcare career was not associated with demographics, economic hardship, or online learning environment.

Discussion: Despite the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, students showed strong interest in pursuing healthcare careers.

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