The power of rotation schedules on the career selection decisions of medical students

John P. Bechara, Priti Pradhan Shah, Keith Lindor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Choosing a career pathway in medicine is a high stakes decision for both medical students and the field of medicine as a whole. While past research has examined how characteristics of the medical student or specialties influence this decision, we introduce temporal elements as novel variables influencing career selection decisions in medicine. Specifically, we investigate how timing and duration of residency options, based on a rotation schedule that medical students have limited control over, influence their career selection decisions. An archival study investigating 5 years of medical student rotation schedules (N = 115) reveals that clinical rotation options appearing earlier and more often in the schedule were more likely to be selected. Moreover, timing and duration of exposure interacted such that residency options appearing later in the schedules were more likely to be selected if they also appeared more often. Conditional logistic regressions using student fixed-effects to control for idiosyncratic medical student differences (i.e., gender, & debt, etc.), and residency fixed-effects to control for idiosyncratic residency differences (income, and lifestyle, etc.), revealed the rotation schedule had a significant impact on residency selection decisions even when controlling for factors typically influencing this decision. Medical students’ career decisions are influenced by when and how long different choice options appear in their rotation schedule, especially when they have limited influence over this schedule. The results have implications for healthcare policy by highlighting a tool for adjusting physician workforce composition by broadening exposure to a greater array of career options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1509-1522
Number of pages14
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Career selection decisions
  • Clinical rotations
  • Duration
  • Medical students
  • Timing

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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