Public Health Career Perceptions and COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-sectional Study on Views of Graduates from a Community-oriented Medical School

The Open Public Health Journal 29 Aug 2023 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/18749445-v16-230821-2023-45



Recent pandemics, particularly COVID-19, have alerted the international community about the importance of encouraging doctors to choose public health and its subspecialties as their main career.


To explore the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on the views of medical graduates towards public health specialty.


An online questionnaire was emailed to the medical graduates enrolled in the Arabian Gulf University Alumni Association. Data was sought on the doctors’ demographic characteristics, medical career status, and their perceptions of public health and its subspecialties. Responses were categorized into two subgroups and analyzed based on doctors’ year of graduation, i.e., before the COVID-19 pandemic (before 2019) and during the COVID-19 pandemic (2019 to 2021).


Two-thirds of medical graduates stated that the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t influence their choice of specialization program, 48.9% agreed that their view towards public health and its subspecialties has changed positively while 34.2% indicated that their view towards the specialty remained the same. Most of the graduates were not willing to consider changing their career to public health. A significant association was found between the perspectives of doctors who graduated before the COVID-19 outbreak compared to those who graduated during the pandemic towards the public health specialty and its subspecialties (p=0.028).


Although the number of doctors who positively view public health and its subspecialties has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains an unattractive career choice. Medical schools should consider public health as part of clinical clerkship rotations and in career day activities.

Keywords: Public health, Medical school, Medical graduates, Career, COVID-19, WHO.
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