Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Stephen R Poteau, PhD, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Robert A. DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

Third Advisor

Robert Cuzzolino, EdD


The number of medical students opting to specialize in primary care has decreased in recent years. Research suggests that empathy, perceived quality of life, and motivation are significant factors in choosing a specialty. The purpose of this study was to determine whether perceived quality of life moderates the relationship between level of empathy and motivation among medical students, and how that affects their final specialty choice. Participants included 174 third- and fourth-year medical students between the ages of 22 and 36 years at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Medical students were given an online survey, which included a demographic questionnaire and measures on empathy, motivation, and future perceived quality of life. The hypotheses for this study were as follows: (a) perceived future quality of life moderates the relationship between empathy and motivation and (b) motivation in medical students is a significant predictor of specialty choice. The results indicate that perceived future quality of life does not moderate the relationship between empathy and motivation. Motivation was found to be a significant predictor of specialty choice in that medical students with higher levels of extrinsic motivation were found to be less likely to choose a non-primary-care specialty. Additionally, perceived future quality of life, lifestyle, empathy level, and prestige were not significant predictors of specialty choice. The findings of this study may serve to stimulate research on specialty choice among medical students and address the deficit of students going into primary care.

Included in

Psychology Commons