Aims - Our main objective was to explore the motivations that led our third year Belgian students to study medicine.

Method - We used a mixed method as we collected both quantitative and qualitative measures at the same time through online surveys. Chi-Square tests were used to examine differences in motivation between gender of the participants. A thematic content analysis was then conducted on the open-ended question using a qualitative approach.

Results and conclusions - The final sample consists of 243 third-year students (87 men and 156 women). Chi-square analyses revealed gender differences in motivations to study medicine. The motivation most often reported by our students in both qualitative and quantitative analyses is “altruistic motivation”. The qualitative analysis identified, within this category, sometimes unrealistic beliefs about the practice of medicine, leading to the conclusion that it is necessary to put medical students in contact with the reality of the field as soon as possible. Furthermore, the lack of focus on the relationship with the patient within the formal curriculum and subsequent medical practice could be the cause of a form of disillusionment among these students. We believe that more lessons on relational aspects should be offered to them.

Perspectives - Finally, in addition to identifying and classifying the motivations present among medical students, we believe that some perspectives are the analysis of the interactions between these motivations in 1) the determination of the choice of study and 2) the attitudes and behaviours that will result from it.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • medical education
  • curriculum
  • undergraduate medical students
  • motivations
  • choice of professional orientation


Dive into the research topics of 'A mixed-approach to investigate what motivates Belgian students to study medicine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this