Professional Identity and Motivation for Medical School in First-Year Medical Students: A Cross-sectional Study

Valentina Faihs, Susanne Heininger, Stuart McLennan, Martin Gartmeier, Pascal O. Berberat, Marjo Wijnen-Meijer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Professional identity formation (PIF) is a life-long process, starting even before professional education. High levels of motivation for medical school are essential for effective learning and academic success. Both are key factors in future physicians’ professional and personal development, and according to self-determination theory, professional identity (PI) and students’ levels of motivation could be closely linked. Therefore, we sought to investigate whether PI and strength of motivation for medical school are associated in new medical students. Methods: In a cross-sectional survey, all new medical students in Munich, Germany, were asked to complete the Macleod Clark Professional Identity Scale (MCPIS-9) and the Strength of Motivation for Medical School-Revised questionnaire (SMMS-R) as well as to provide information about age, gender, and waiting time before starting medical school. Results: Eight hundred eleven out of 918 new medical students participated in the survey. A positive correlation between the MCPIS-9 and the SMMS-R (p < 0.001) was found. Female students showed higher scores in the SMMS-R (p < 0.05) and the SMMS-R-subscale Readiness to Start (p < 0.001). The amount of waiting semesters showed a positive correlation with the total SMMS-R score (p < 0.01) as well as with the subscales Readiness to Start and Persistence (both p < 0.001). Discussion: We found an association between PI and strength of motivation for medical school in a large cohort of new medical students. Female gender and more waiting semesters were associated with higher levels of self-perceived motivation and higher scores on the SMMS-R-subscale Readiness to Start. More research is needed to better understand this topic to further improve medical education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-441
Number of pages11
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Medical education
  • Medical students
  • Motivation
  • Professional identity


Dive into the research topics of 'Professional Identity and Motivation for Medical School in First-Year Medical Students: A Cross-sectional Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this