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13-07-2018 | Original Article | Uitgave 4/2018 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 4/2018

Future physician-scientists: could we catch them young? Factors influencing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for research among first-year medical students

Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 4/2018
Belinda W. C. Ommering, Floris M. van Blankenstein, Cathelijn J. F. Waaijer, Friedo W. Dekker
Belangrijke opmerkingen
This paper received The Netherlands Association for Medical Education Best Research Paper Award 2017.



The medical field is currently facing a physician-scientist shortage. One possible solution is to direct medical students towards a research oriented career. To do so, knowledge is needed on how to motivate medical students to do research. Therefore, this study examines motivation for research and identifies factors influencing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for research among first-year medical students.


First-year medical students were surveyed at the beginning of their bachelor’s program in 2016. On a 7-point Likert scale, students reported their motivation for research, self-efficacy, perceptions of research, curiosity, and need for challenge. Regression analyses were used to examine the influence of these factors on students’ motivation for research.


Out of 316 approached students, 315 participated (99.7%). On average, students scored 5.49 on intrinsic, and 5.66 on extrinsic motivation for research. All factors measured influenced intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for research significantly and positively, also after adjusting for gender and age. Cumulative regression showed that these factors explained 39.6% of the variance in intrinsic, and 14% in extrinsic motivation for research.


All factors play an important role in intrinsic and, to a lesser extent, extrinsic motivation for research. First-year medical students’ motivation for research could be enhanced by stimulating positive self-efficacy beliefs, positive perceptions of research, and curiosity. Also, it is important to fulfil students’ needs for challenge by stimulating them to actively conduct research. Thus, to catch students young and cultivate physician-scientists, students should be stimulated to engage in research from the beginning of medical training.
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