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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 256-259

Career choices in allied health: A study of influencing factors on students of medical technology at an Indian University

Faculty of Health and Biomedical Sciences, Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences, Symbiosis International University, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication7-Feb-2014

Correspondence Address:
Sammita J Jadhav
Kamaldhan, 117 St. Patrick's Town, Pune-Solapur Road, Wanowarie, Pune - 411 013, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-344X.126714

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Background: In India, entry level medical technology (MT) students usually decide their career choice before the commencement of the graduate programs. There is no provision for assimilating the intricacies of different specializations in the field of MT. Aim: The research aims at identifying the factors that play a major role in reaching a career choice by MT students and disseminating this information to stakeholders for effective program design and delivery. Setting and Designs: An exploratory study was carried out at an Indian university on 78 students of MT programs in Cardiac care, dialysis, respiratory therapy, imaging sciences, clinical laboratory, operation theater and Anesthesia technology.
Materials and Methods: Students were surveyed to ascertain the influencing factors that shape their preferences for career choice preceded by focus group interview. Statistical Analysis: Data was analyzed using SPSS Inc. Version 16.0; frequency distribution was used to obtain valid percentage. Cross tabulation was used to arrive at P value. Results: The prime factors influencing career choices emerged as Hospital infrastructure (91.3%), working environment (87%), alumni (P = 0.04) and status of specialization (P = 0.02) at 95% of the confidence interval however; profile of patient, use of equipment and career growth (78%) also played an influential role. Conclusion: It is critical to understand and address the influencing factors that affect career choices; necessitating academia and the health care industry to partner in creating better adapted medical technologists.

Keywords: Allied health, career choice, influencing factors, medical technologist, medical technology

How to cite this article:
Jadhav SJ, Yeravadekar R, Shrivastava S, Kulkarni M. Career choices in allied health: A study of influencing factors on students of medical technology at an Indian University. Int J Health Allied Sci 2013;2:256-9

How to cite this URL:
Jadhav SJ, Yeravadekar R, Shrivastava S, Kulkarni M. Career choices in allied health: A study of influencing factors on students of medical technology at an Indian University. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2013 [cited 2024 Feb 25];2:256-9. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2013/2/4/256/126714

  Introduction Top

The world over, there is a paradigm shift in delivery of health care from being physician centric toward an integrative, team approach. [1] "Integrative health care" has become a common term to describe teams of health care providers having varied technical, nursing, diagnostic and therapeutic skills that consists of not only a medical practitioner and nurse, but an allied health professional who is an integral and distinct member of the team. [2]

Health care as a composite whole can only be improved if human resources for nursing and allied health services are nurtured and enhanced through education in a systematic and planned manner. [3]

A vast variety of allied health professions exists in India; predominantly working as a technician in medical laboratory, [4] radiology, ophthalmic, operating theater and anesthesia technicians, [5] cardiac care and dialysis technologists, respiratory therapists, speech therapists and audiologists. [6]

With newer innovative and advanced technologies over the past few decades, the quality of medical care has improved tremendously across the globe throwing up fresh challenges to the emerging sophisticated medical ecosystem. In actuality, diagnosis has become so reliant on technology that the function of allied health staff has become vital in delivering successful treatment.

A concerted effort is required by the academia to create programs for better informed careers in medical technology (MT). Concurrently, employers need to identify the key factors, which would attract and retain talent. Hence, this study attempts to identify the important criteria responsible for an informed decision making process for MT students. Disseminating this information to stakeholders concerned will help in effective program design and delivery.

  Materials and Methods Top

A descriptive study was conducted at a health sciences institute that conducts full time, 3 year MT programs in cardiac care, imaging sciences, respiratory therapy, clinical laboratory, dialysis and operation theater and anesthesia technology; during June 2012 to November 2012. The study was initiated with Focus group interviews with the alumni of the Bachelors in MT program to shortlist factors that play a role in definition and refinement of one's choice of career specialization [Table 1]. For this, the students who participated in the alumni meet were included.
Table 1: List of factors influencing career choice in MT

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Based on the results of the focused group interview, the study was designed to examine and establish the influencing factors that play a major role in the choice of specialization. The questionnaire was administered to all the students of the Bachelors in MT program who had completed 1 st year coursework that included theoretical and practical inputs in MT; but were not exposed to the Hospital Ecosystem and were making their choice of specialization to pursue from 2 nd year were included in the study. The said questionnaire was validated, for which Cronbach's alpha was. 90, which proved satisfactory.

A total of 78 students participated in the study of which 34 second year students and 44 were alumni of the Bachelors in MT program. The census sample method was adopted for current students and convenience sampling was adopted for alumni. In the questionnaire formulated for the purpose of the study, responses were measured with the use of 5 point Likert scale.

The students were asked to fill in the questionnaire distributed to them. Current students yielded 100% response; however alumni response was 72%.

Statistical analysis

The data was statistically analyzed using SPSS version 16 for Windows. Descriptive statistics was used for carrying out frequency distribution and arriving at valid percentage. The inferential analysis was performed at 95% confidence interval. Cross tabulation for the data was done using Chi-square test to obtain respective P values, results with P ≤ 0.05 were considered to be statistically significant.

  Results Top

Study on alumni

Focus group interviews with the alumni of the Bachelors in MT program revealed key factors in one's choice of career specialization [Table 1].

The alumni also expressed the need for experiential learning, which they believed was critical to understand the functioning of specialized departments.

The survey on the alumni revealed the following:

  • Around 50% of the alumni were not pursuing in the specialization opted during the course. Only 17.14% had opted for further studies
  • About 87% alumni were greatly influenced by the working environment, which included other staff members, peers, supervisors, subordinates and amenities available in their organization. Majority (91.3%) were extremely influenced by overall infrastructure of the hospital facility. In addition to the above factors, profile of the hospital patients, use of equipments, interaction with existing staff in terms of job responsibilities, overall functioning, work satisfaction, financial returns and career growth in the department scored 78.2%.

Study on the current students

The demographic data of current students revealed 59.4% were female students and 40.6% were male students, out of which only 14.6% had their parents working in health care sector [Table 2].
Table 2: Demographic data of current students

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Cardiac care specialization was preferred by 40.6%, followed by 34.4% for imaging sciences, 12.5% for respiratory technology, 9.4% for dialysis technology, 3.1% for operation theatre and anesthesia technology and 0% for laboratory specialization. The concern of occupational hazard related to specialization was taken into consideration by 59% of students while choosing their specialization [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Responses of students for influencing factors

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Among eleven factors that emerged as the influence on career choice, alumni influence and status of specialization were significant with P values 0.04 and 0.02 respectively at 95% confidence interval. However, other major factors having influences were Hospital infrastructure, working environment, alumni outlook and status of specialization.

  Discussion Top

  • The education and training protocols in allied health sciences has dramatically evolved over time. The current advancement in technology is necessitating the drive for allied health educators to become well versed with content specific applied pedagogical concepts. For this, a well-structured curriculum is needed [7]
  • Globally, in pre-professional schools; students get awareness through various sources such as career advisement, volunteering, summer schools and through the internet [8],[9],[10]
  • In India, entry level MT students usually decide their career choice before the commencement of the graduate programs. [11] There is no provision for assimilating the intricacies of different specializations in MT and very few universities offer specializations after adequate exposure to the hospital setting [12],[13]
  • Studies have been conducted to explore the major influences on career choices in varied disciplines such as psychiatry, athletics and dietetics [14],[15],[16]
  • In our study, we found a strong indication that hospital ecosystem has a strong influence on medical technologists in their decision of career choice
  • The demographic data in our study indicated that the interest in the MT program was not gender specific, nor was it restricted to families where parents worked in the medical related professions
  • Females showed a strong inclination toward Cardiac care while males preferred the Imaging sciences specialization. This is comparable to studies that have shown women preferring clinical specializations
  • In this study, career choices in Cardiac care technology and Imaging science had precedence over other specializations indicating a welcome sign to meet the future demand in these specialties, however there is a strong possibility of manpower crunch in medical laboratory industry
  • The data in this study revealed that only 46% students choosing MT were aware of the occupational hazards associated with their specialization. Occupational hazard is not a major concern for MT students while choosing their specialization, however this could be it could be due to lack of awareness
  • There was a strong indication that the wards of parents in the medical profession tend to choose Cardiac Care and Imaging Sciences as their career choice. This corroborates the fact that the medical fraternity in India gives higher status to these specializations.

Controversies raised by the study

  • Inadequate information and orientation of the profession make many students to become complacent, poor learner, maladjusted and slow adapters in the real professional world.

Scope for further research

  • A study to analyze the impact of hospital exposure and its effect on adherence to chosen specialization will give further evidence on improved program design through experiential learning.

  Conclusion Top

The identification of key factors provides a compass to the influences driving motivation in the profession. These factors need the right attention by providers of relevant programs to produce better medical technologists for the future. The research also provides confirmation that a conscious effort needs to be made by the health care industry to provide better pay packages, career growth and status to the existing as well as new entrants in the field of MT.

Both academia as well as the health care industry would have to work together crafting a better health care ecosystem in India and globally.

  Acknowledgment Top

Maj. Gen (Dr.) V.W. Tilak.

  References Top

1.Ruzek JY, Bloor LE, Anderson JL, Ngo M and the UCSF Center for the Health Professions. The Hidden Health Care Workforce: Recognizing, Understanding and Improving the Allied and Auxiliary Workforce. San Francisco, CA: UCSF Center for the Health Professions July, 1999.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Boon H, Verhoef M, O′Hara D, Findlay B. From parallel practice to integrative health care: A conceptual framework. BMC Health Serv Res 2004;4:15.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.WHO. Allied Health (paramedical) Services and Education: Report of an Inter Country Consultation, Bangkok, Thailand, March 2000, 20-24.World Health Organization;2001  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Rajiv Gandhi University of Karnataka. Revised ordinance governing regulations and curriculum for bachelor of science degree courses in allied health sciences. Available from: http://www.rguhs.ac.in/cdc/alliedhealth/OPERATION%20TECHNOLOG.pdf. [Last accessed on 2013 Feb 02].  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Indian Institute of Allied Health Sciences Courses. Available from: http://www.iiahs.in/health.php. [Last accessed on 2013 Feb 02].  Back to cited text no. 5
6.All India Institute of Medical Sciences Academic Section. Available from: http://www.aiims.edu/aiims/academic/course1.htm. [Last accessed on 2012 Dec 17].  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Asokan GV. Evidence-based practice curriculum in allied health professions for teaching-research-practice nexus. J Evid Based Med 2012;5:226-31.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Stone Hill College. Available from: http://www.stonehill.edu. [Last accessed on 2013 Jan 14].  Back to cited text no. 8
9.The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions. Available from: http://www.asahp.org/. [Last accessed on 2013 Jan 14].  Back to cited text no. 9
10.University of Houston. Available from: http://www.uh.edu/. [Last accessed on 2013 Jan 10].  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Manipal University. Available from: http://www.manipal.edu/INTERNATIONALSTUDENTS/UNDERGRADUATE/Pages/CoursesOffered.aspx. [Last accessed on 2012 Dec 29].  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Maharashtra University of Health Sciences. Available from: http://www.muhs.ac.in/. [Last accessed on 2013 Jan 20].  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Symbiosis institute of health sciences. Available from: http://www.sihspune.org/sihspune.org/bscmedical.html. [Last accessed on 2012 Dec 12].  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Skipper A, Lewis NM. A look at the educational preparation of the health-diagnosing and treating professions: Do dietitians measure up? J Am Diet Assoc 2005;105:420-7.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Mensch JM, Ennis CD. Pedagogic Strategies Perceived to Enhance Student Learning in Athletic Training Education. J Athl Train 2002;37:S199-207.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Soethout M, Cate TT, Van der Wal G. Factors associated with the nature, timing and stability of the specialty career choices of recently graduated doctors in European countries, a literature review. Med Educ Online 2004;9:1-9.  Back to cited text no. 16


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]

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