Answer to "What is the importance of career counselling?"


Making the decision about a future career is important for students, especially since selection for a specific career is usually highly competitive and applications have to made by the end of medical school. Making an appropriate career choice also has implications for future job –satisfaction and the well being of individuals. Attracting particular groups of students to certain specialities is also important, such as women to surgery or students with disabilities. All of these factors can contribute to students presenting with difficulties, especially towards the transition to  the final year of medical school when they are applying for jobs that can have a major impact on their final career.


  • Decision –making about a career is complex and involves the matching of perceptions of specialty characteristics with personal needs. The factors associated with specialty preference or career choice can be classified in five main categories (Querido et al) :


  1. medical school characteristics (e.g., curriculum structure)

  2. student characteristics (e.g., age, personality)

  3. student values (e.g., personal preference)

  4. career needs to be satisfied (e.g., expected income, status, and work–life balance)

  5. perception of speciality characteristics (e.g., extracurricular or curricular experiences).


  • There are often misperceptions of specialty characteristics , such as primary care or women in surgery. Research highlights the importance of role models and mentors from specialities for successfully addressing these misconceptions. The curriculum can also influence career choice by increasing time in specialities, such as longitudinal clerkships for primary care.


  • Because making a decision about a career can have major future implications for students, it is important that career counselling is provided from the beginning of medical school. Tutors may need to develop their career counselling skills so that students can make informed choices and also access to a professional career counsellors may be required, especially if students are leaving medical school before the end of their course.



Querido SJ, Vergouw D, Wigersma L, Batenburg RS, De Rond ME, Ten Cate OT. (2016) Dynamics of career choice among students in undergraduate medical courses. A BEME systematic review: BEME Guide No. 33. Medical Teacher. 38(1):18-29.