Aim: To gain insight into the trend of career choice for family medicine in Croatia in recent years.
Methods: Six surveys were performed in the academic years 2006/07-2011/12 at the University of Zagreb, School of Medicine. Altogether, 1140 6th year students participated. They anonymously completed a questionnaire containing questions on desired future specialisation as well as other selected characteristics (e.g. gender, desired area and place of work, motivation to study medicine, etc.). Binary logistic regression was used to determine unadjusted and adjusted trends.
Results: After adjustment for selected factors, the relationship between observed outcome and the year of observation showed an evident decreasing trend. The odds for intention to specialise in family medicine were in the academic year 2006/2007 1.43-times higher than in the year 2007/2008 (p=0.412), 1.85-times higher than in the year 2008/2009 (p=0.168), 2.38-times higher than in the year 2009/2010 (p=0.051), 2.63-times higher than in the year 2010/2011 (p=0.027) and 3.85-times higher than in the year 2011/2012 (p=0.003).
Conclusions: The results of the present study offer evidence that Croatia is experiencing a constantly decreasing trend of career choice for family medicine in recent years. It is obvious that final year medical students are not very much interested in working as family practitioners. At the same time, demand for family practitioners in Croatia is increasing. Both academic and professional societies have a social responsibility to reorient the health care system and medical curricula towards comprehensive primary health care in which family medicine has a key role.