Evaluating the psychometric properties of a scale to measure medical students' career-related values

Maureen Murdoch, Nancy Kressin, Larry Fortier, Patti A. Giuffre, Lisa Oswald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose. To develop and validate a survey instrument to measure medical students' career-related values. Method. A literature review yielded seven content domains that consistently correlated with medical students' career choices: biosocial orientation, bioscientific orientation, academic interest, prestige, income, desire to avoid role strain, and desire for role support. Item pools for the content domains were developed by examining previously published questionnaires and research and by interviewing health professionals, medical students, and premedical students. The instrument was tested in two phases. In phase 1, a 96-item questionnaire was mailed to all 847 students at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. Results were submitted to item analysis and exploratory factor analysis. Construct validity of the questionnaire was assessed by (1) seeing if the seven scales correlated to one another in expected directions, (2) correlating students' survey responses with their self-reported interests in primary care, surgery, or radiology, and (3) seeing if anticipated sex differences were realized across the seven content domains. In phase 2, a random subgroup of 134 students was sent the final 46-item instrument twice to determine its short-term test-retest reliability. Results. In phase 1,670 students (79.2%) returned usable questionnaires. Seven scales corresponding to the content domains emerged from factor analyses. Cumulatively, they accounted for 43.9% of the variance in students' responses, and their internal consistency coefficients ranged from .71 to .87. All scales correlated with one another in the directions expected and, with two exceptions, at highly significant levels. High scores on bioscientific orientation, prestige, and income scales correlated positively with students' interest in surgery or radiology careers, but correlated negatively with their interest in primary care. High scores on biosocial orientation and avoid role strain scales correlated positively with students' interest in primary care, but correlated negatively with students' interest in surgery or radiology. Women had higher scores than did men on biosocial orientation, avoid role strain, and role support scales and lower scores on bioscientific orientation, academic interest, prestige, and income. Of these, all but the difference in role support scores were highly significant. In phase 2, 89 students (66%) returned questionnaires. Test-retest reliability for the seven scales ranged from .83 to .92. Conclusions. The seven scales pertaining to students' career-related values collectively demonstrated high internal consistency, short-term test-retest reliability, and evidence of construct validity. If predictive validity can be demonstrated in future research, the scales could have important applications for researchers, guidance counselors, and students, and they might also be useful to administrators who wish to identify students interested in primary care earlier in the students' training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages9
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


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