Relationship Between Confidence, Gender, and Career Choice in Internal Medicine

Katherine Gavinski, Erin Cleveland, Aashish K. Didwania, Joseph M. Feinglass, Melanie S. Sulistio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Understanding factors in internal medicine (IM) resident career choice may reveal important needed interventions for recruitment and diversity in IM primary care and its subspecialties. Self-reported learner confidence is higher in men than in women in certain areas of practicing medicine, but has never been explored as a factor in career choice. Objective: The purpose of this study is to elucidate associations between confidence, gender, and career choice. Design: IM residents completed a 31-item survey rating confidence in procedural, clinical, and communication skills on a 9-point Likert scale. Residents also reported anticipated career choice and rated influence of factors. Associations between gender and confidence scale scores, gender and career choice, and confidence and career choice were analyzed using t tests, ANOVA, and multiple linear regression controlled for postgraduate year (PGY), institution, and specialty choice. Participants: 292 IM residents at Northwestern and University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Main Measures: Resident gender, self-reported confidence, career choice Key Results: Response rate was 79.6% (n = 292), of them 50.3% women. Overall self-reported confidence increased with training (PGY-1 4.9 (1.1); PGY-2 6.2 (1.0); PGY-3 7.4 (1.0); p < 0.001). Men had higher confidence than women (men 6.6 (1.5); women 6.3 (1.4), p = 0.06), with the greatest difference in procedures. High confidence in men was associated with choice of procedural careers, whereas there was no association between confidence and career in women. Conclusions: This is the first study demonstrating a gender difference in self-reported confidence and career choice. There is a positive correlation in men: higher self-reported confidence with procedural specialties, lower with general internal medicine. Women’s self-reported confidence had no association. Further investigation is needed to elucidate causative factors for differences in self-reported confidence by gender, and whether alterations in level of self-reported confidence produce a downstream effect on career choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)662-667
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • career choice
  • confidence
  • gender
  • residency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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