E2097. Interest in Healthcare Career in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic
  1. Jingxin Li; University of Pennsylvania
  2. Yu-chia Cheng; University of Pennsylvania
  3. Ananya Dewan; University of Pennsylvania
  4. Haoxiang Hou; University of Pennsylvania
  5. Ronnie Sebro; Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; University of Pennsylvania
  6. Stephanie Jo; Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; University of Pennsylvania
The healthcare profession has been considered an excellent career choice and the importance of the pre-medical experience in shaping future medical landscape has been documented[1]. In the wake of the pandemic, there has been intense media spotlight on the healthcare profession, necessitating analyses of student experiences. Though similar studies have been conducted with medical students, one has not been conducted with undergraduates[2,3]. This project aims to assess any change in the perception of healthcare as a career choice amongst undergraduate students using a cross-sectional survey study.

Materials and Methods:
The project was approved by our Institutional Review Board. Survey collected data on demographics, socioeconomics, media exposure, academic environment, and change in interest in a healthcare profession. The survey was distributed through the university undergraduate social media and listservs. 124 responses were received. Descriptive statistics including Fisher’s exact test were applied in the analysis. Response rates to questions varied, and response rates of at least 70% were reviewed.

90/124 of respondents were in the first two years of undergraduate education, 29/124 in the latter two, and 5/124 are working full time or pursuing further education. 33/88 respondents noted increased interest in healthcare during the pandemic, while 8/88 noted decreased interest, and rest noted no change. Largest cohort identified as Asian (72/124); next largest as Caucasian (34/124). Majority were 2nd generation Americans (77/124), and next were 3rd generation Americans (27/124). There was no association between immigration status (P=1.00, OR=0.92; 95%CI (0.33-2.60)) or ethnicity (P=1.00, OR=1.06, 95%Cl (0.36-3.17)) and change in interest in a healthcare career. 24/120 respondents were paying tuition with loans, 74/120 with financial aid or work-study, 50/120 with scholarship, and 89/120 with parental support. 94/123 respondents noted loss of an internship or job due to the pandemic either personally or in a close contact. 53/122 respondents had less than 1 hour of media exposure, and 48/122 had 1-2 hours of media exposure per day. Our institution moved to virtual class in March and respondents perceived high rates of academic dishonesty, with 98/122 suspecting increased cheating. Respondents were split on preferences on the online platform, with 45/124 perceiving increased course difficulty and 51/124 decreased difficulty. Students who perceived increased class difficulty were not deterred from pursuing medicine - in fact, there was increased or unchanged interest in healthcare profession among these students (P=0.017, OR=2.97, 95%Cl (1.15-7.97)).

Our study shows an overall increase in interest in healthcare professions from undergraduate students at our institution. Immigration status or ethnicity did not affect a respondent’s choice, noting large 2nd generation American and Asian respondents. Although online learning was associated with increased perceived dishonesty, the online learning environment has not deterred students from pursuing a healthcare career.