Association of Mindfulness With Residency Preference and Curriculum Selection in Preclinical Osteopathic Medical Students

Nikita Nayyar, OMS IV; Greg Saggio, DO; Maria Plummer, MD; Min-Kyung Jung, PhD; and John Kappenberg, EdD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: December 19, 2017

Accepted: January 5, 2018

Published: September 1, 2018

J Osteopath Med; 118(9): 587-595

Context: Recent studies suggest the shortage of US primary care physicians will be more than 50,000 by the year 2025. Mindful osteopathic medical students may be more inclined to pursue a career in primary care practice than those demonstrating lower levels of mindfulness. If so, assessing mindfulness before and after admission to medical school may reduce this shortage.

Objectives: In this cross-sectional survey-based study, the authors assessed whether mindfulness among preclinical osteopathic medical students was associated with (a) their current preference for primary care practice as a residency, and (b) their choice between 2 alternative curricula.

Methods: Participants were first- and second-year osteopathic medical students enrolled at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM). They completed a 7-factor questionnaire of demographic variables and the online Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) to determine their mindfulness score. They also identified their current preference for a residency. Data were then presented using various descriptive statistics and analyzed using independent t tests, χ2 tests, and multiple logistic regression.

Results: Among the 208 respondents, authors found that osteopathic medical students who expressed a preference for primary care practice showed no significant differences in mindfulness compared with those interested in specialist fields, as indicated by mean (SD) mindfulness scores of 3.34 (0.44) vs 3.33 (0.41), respectively (P=.88). However, among demographic variables, female students expressed a preference for primary care practice fields at significantly higher rates than male students (OR, 4.4; 95% CI, 2.2-8.5; P<.001). Also, students who matriculated less than 6 months after completing their undergraduate education were drawn to primary care practice at higher rates than those who delayed enrollment (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.2-4.5; P=.016). None of the remaining demographic variables were associated with students’ residency preference.

Conclusions: Being female and matriculating immediately after undergraduate education was associated with a preference for primary care residency. However, no significant association was found between mindfulness and either residency preference or choice of alternative curricula.

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