Factors that influence Canadian internal medicine residents’ choice to pursue a rheumatology career Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • In Canada, little is known about residents' self-confidence to diagnose/treat musculoskeletal (MSK) disease and factors affecting pursuit of a rheumatology career. Our study explored these factors. An online survey (descriptive cross-sectional design) was distributed to Canadian postgraduate year (PGY) 1 and 2 internal medicine (IM) residents. Questions probed self-confidence in rheumatology and factors influencing subspecialty career choice. Frequencies were determined and responses compared between PGY-1 and PGY-2 using univariate statistical analyses. Fifty-four IM residents completed the survey. PGY-2 residents were statistically more certain in subspecialty decidedness and had higher levels of self-confidence to diagnose/treat MSK disease and perform a physical exam. "Quality of life" was the most encouraging factor for a rheumatology career choice followed by "job opportunities" and "previous clinical exposure." Although 50% of PGY-1 residents had completed a rheumatology clinical rotation, 76% indicated that increased knowledge would affect rheumatology career choice. Only 38% were interested in novel rheumatology education. No difference in rheumatology exposure, rheumatology clinical rotation completion year, or rheumatology career choice was observed. Our research confirms findings from similar United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) studies that suggest that increased MSK knowledge positively influences residents' confidence to diagnose/treat MSK disease. Our study differs with Canadian PGY-1 and PGY-2 IM residents by evaluating self-confidence to diagnose/treat MSK disease separately from self-confidence to perform a physical exam. Significant differences between first and second year trainees suggest types/quality of rheumatology experiences (e.g., case complexity, diagnostic problem-solving competency) may affect self-confidence to diagnose/treat MSK disease factors and rheumatology career choice.


  • Matsos, Mark
  • Docherty-Skippen, Susan Maureen
  • Yelovich, Mary-Clair
  • Beattie, Karen

publication date

  • January 2019