To describe motivations correlating with subspecialty choices, particularly rheumatology.


A total of 179 respondents answered queries about various aspects affecting specialty and subspecialty choice with ordinal ratings of importance. Likert scale response data were analyzed to determine independent predictors of being a rheumatology fellow. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to develop models predicting rheumatology fellowship. Factor analysis methods to condense the individual responses into fewer underlying variables or factors were employed.


While every group ranked intellectual interest as more important than all other responses, its score in the rheumatology fellow group was significantly higher than that in the medical student group. A model using 4 composite variables based on prior literature did not fit well. Exploratory factor analysis identified 5 underlying motivations, which were designated as time, money, external constraints, practice content, and academics. All motivations except money were statistically significant, with the rheumatology fellow group attributing greater importance than medical students to time, practice content, and academics, and lesser importance than medical students to external constraints.


Values and motivations leading toward rheumatology subspecialty choice can be traced to identifiable factors. Intellectual interest appears to be split between 2 distinct significant variables: practice content and academics. Time or controllable lifestyle, external constraints, practice content, and academic issues appear to be important influences on the choice of rheumatology fellowship. Such variables appear to reflect underlying values and motivations.