Academically talented high school students (ATHSSs), an exceptional cohort, are not well studied for their career expectations, especially for those with medical career expectation (MCE). Nowadays, the public perception of the medical profession is changing in China. The purpose of this study was to answer questions about ‘is medicine attractive for ATHSSs and ‘what factors affect medical career expectations (MCE) for ATHSSs’ in China.
A total of 16,479 representative ATHSSs in senior three completed a questionnaire and four different academic tests. Frequency statistics showed the proportion of ATHSSs with MCE. Unpaired t-tests were performed to find out the differences in demographics, family background, and academic performance between students with and without MCE. The logit models analysis were applied to explore the potential factors that affected the MCE of this exceptional group of students.
ATHSSs with MCE accounted for 20.6% (ranking 7/18) of the respondents. They were more likely to be female, came from relatively poorer families, lived in a rural area, and performed significantly worse in all academic tests except for mathematics, compared with those without MCE. In addition, the results revealed that gender (β = − 0.436, p < 0.01), region of hometown (β = − 103, p < 0.1), mother’s years of schooling (β = − 0.019, p < 0.05), and father’s occupational status (β = − 0.005, p < 0.01) contributed significantly to the MCE of academically talented students. Better performance in mathematics affected the MCE of ATHSSs taking the liberal arts and science tests differently.