Role models' perceptions of themselves and their influence on students' specialty choices

Donna M. Ambrozy, David M. Irby, Judith L. Bowen, Jeffrey H. Burack, Jan D. Carline, Frank T. Stritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Purpose. To examine the perceptions of faculty role models to learn whether their perceptions of role models' behaviors are congruent with those of their students Method. In 1996 a survey was mailed to 210 student- identified faculty role models at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. The nominees were asked to rate to what extent each of 32 student- identified role model characteristics was representative of their behavior. They were then asked to rank order the characteristics they felt were most important to model for students. The role models were also asked to rate how much influence they perceived themselves to have on their students' specialty choices A final, open-ended question inquired about the single characteristics they modeled to students that most influenced the students' specialty choices The role models' specialties were grouped as either primary care (PC) or non-primary care (NPC). Data were analyzed with several statistical methods Results. Of the 210 mailed surveys, a total of 177 were returned, for a response rate of 84%. The role models perceived their behaviors much like their students did; the role models' self-ratings were generally high for all of the student-defined characteristics. Although clinical reasoning was considered the most important characteristic to model for students, the role models also believed that enthusiasm and love for their work were the characteristics that most influenced their students' specialty choices. Few differences were found between the PC and the NPC role models. Conclusion. The role models in this study agreed with their students about what is important to model. They did not intentionally try to recruit students to join their specialities but felt that demonstrating enthusiasm and a sincere love for what they did has a strong influence toward this end.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1119-1121
Number of pages3
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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