Previous Military Medical Exposure as a Motivator for a Medical Career

Uri Manor, Raviv Allon, Hadar Gan-Or, Orr Yahal, Avi Benov, Jacob Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: A variety of factors influence the motivation to choose a medical career; however, the influence of premedical experiences on health professional trainees' choices is a neglected one. We hypothesize that medical exposure during service in the Israeli Air Force special operations forces (SOFs) has an impact on motivation for medical studies. The Israeli scenario, in which career choice is anteceded by substantial military experience, allows us to examine this hypothesis. Materials and Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study among physicians and medical students who served as operators in the Israeli Air Force SOF; Unit 669 (an airborne combat search and rescue unit), and Shaldag (an airborne SOF unit). All medical students and physicians enlisted between January 2001 and December 2010 were eligible for enrollment. Results: Of over 700 operators screened, 3.7% of Shaldag veterans and 11.1% of Unit 669 veterans had started or finished medical school (P-value < 0.001). Overall, 49 veterans answered the questionnaire and enrolled in the study, of whom 17 (34.7%) were Shaldag veterans and 32 (65.3%) were Unit 669 veterans. Subjective questions implied a significant effect of the service in Unit 669 on career choice. Paramedics had a relative risk of becoming physicians of 7.37 when compared to nonparamedic operators, irrespective of their original unit. Conclusions: Medical exposure of Unit 669 operators during military service significantly contributed to their motivation for becoming physicians. Thus, military service in this setting acts de facto as an effective medical immersion program. This adds another factor to the myriad of factors that motivate young adults in their choice of a medical career.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-761
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


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