University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

A Cross-Sectional Study of Attitudes and Factors That Promote Medical Student Participation in Professional Medical Societies

Michael J. Rigby; Daniel D. Bennett, MD

WMJ. 2020;119(4):263-269.

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Purpose: Medical student participation in professional medical societies is an understudied extracurricular activity. The purpose of this study is to assess student characteristics associated with participation and their attitudes toward professional medical societies.

Methods: A cross-sectional study using a 21-item survey questionnaire was administered to Wisconsin medical students in the fall of 2019. Regression analysis was used to find factors associated with participation.

Results: A total of 308 questionnaire responses were collected with a response rate of 17.4%. Sixty-three percent of respondents participated in a professional medical society, and the most important reasons for participating included professional development, networking, and advocacy. Participation was positively associated with age (OR = 1.16; 95% CI, 1.01 - 1.33); years of medical education (OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.18 - 1.69); number of memberships in professional medical societies (OR = 2.02; 95% CI, 1.61 - 2.53); number of extracurricular advocacy events attended outside of professional medical societies (OR = 1.62; 95% CI, 1.17   - 2.23); belief that participation is important for professional development (OR = 1.76; 95% CI, 1.39 - 2.23), patients (OR = 1.51; 95% CI, 1.23 - 1.86), and medical education (OR = 1.43; 95% CI, 1.19 - 1.71); and the desire to participate as a physician (OR = 1.53; 95% CI, 1.25  - 1.88). Participation was negatively associated with male gender (OR = 0.51; 95% CI, 0.27   - 0.95).

Conclusions: Medical students who participate in professional medical societies believe participation supports their education, their patients, and their professional development. Further study is required to elucidate reasons for nonparticipation.

Author Affiliations: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UWSMPH), University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis (Rigby); Department of Dermatology, UWSMPH, Madison, WI (Bennett).
Corresponding Author: Michael J. Rigby, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 750 Highland Ave, Madison, WI, 53705;
phone: 608.669.0320; email; ORCID ID 0000-0001-8809-2648.
Acknowledgements: The authors wish to thank Xiao Zhang with the UW-Madison Carbone Cancer Center Cancer Prevention and Outcomes Data (C-POD) Shared Resource for assistance with survey development and Michael Lasarev with the UW-Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) Biostatistics and Epidemiology Research Design Resource (BERD) for assistance with survey analysis. Mr Rigby is a member of the board of directors for the Wisconsin Medical Society and Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation and serves as a council member to the American Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs.
Funding/Support: Grant support for the REDCap survey platform is provided by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program through the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) grant UL1TR002373.
Financial Disclosures: Dr Bennett is board member/officer of the American Academy of Dermatology/Association, for which he receives a stipend.
Data Sharing: The raw data collected in this study have been deposited in Mendeley Data and can be accessed at doi.10.17632/vm974fwcjz.1.
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