Becoming professional: when and how does it start? A comparative study of first-year medical and law students in the UK

Cavenagh, Penny, Dewberry, C and Jones, P (2000) Becoming professional: when and how does it start? A comparative study of first-year medical and law students in the UK. Medical Education, 34 (11). pp. 897-902. ISSN 0308-0110

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The purpose of this study is to investigate whether differences identified between first-year law and medical students in North America in the 1950s apply in the UK in the 1990s. First-year law and medical students are compared in terms of commitment to career, alternative career choices and length of time the student has wished to study for his/her chosen profession.

Questionnaires were administered to first-year law students at the University of East Anglia and Essex University and to first-year medical students at Liverpool University Medical School and St George’s Hospital Medical School. A total of 162 questionnaires were completed by law students and 195 questionnaires from medical students.

The questionnaire responses provided by law and medical students were analysed using a series of two-sample comparisons. Differences between the two groups were examined using t and chi-squared tests. In each of the seven questions answered by students, the differences between the law and medical students were found to be significant. This suggests a difference in career aspirations and perceptions between the two groups.

Results and Conclusions
The study shows a greater commitment of medical students than law students to their chosen career. This is demonstrated by medical students’ greater desire to pursue their career, their greater satisfaction with their choice of career and finding that more medical students would persist with reapplying for medicine than law students would in reapplying for law. It is also shown that medical students are twice as likely as law students to have a family member within the profession.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: career choices, Law students, Medical students, career aspirations
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Health & Science > Department of Health Studies
Depositing User: David Upson-Dale
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2018 10:13
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2018 10:13

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