Tari Stowers1, Mataroria P. Lyndon2,3, Marcus A. Henning2, Andrew G. Hill3,4& Melinda Webber5

1Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland, New Zealand; 2Centre for Medical and Health Sciences Education, The University of Auckland, New Zealand; 3Counties Manukau District Health Board, New Zealand; 4South Auckland Clinical Campus, The University of Auckland, New Zealand; 5Te Puna Wānanga/School of Māori and Indigenous Education, The University of Auckland, New Zealand


Introduction: This study explored motivation among a cohort of New Zealand medical students from The University of Auckland. The research questions were: 1) What motivates students to attend medical school? 2) What are the values, beliefs or cultural practices that influence students’ decisions to go to medical school? 3) How do students’ families influence their decisions to go to medical school?

Methods: Twenty medical students from The University of Auckland in Years Two and Five of a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree participated in semi-structured focus group interviews. Two cohorts of medical students were involved, Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme students (MAPAS), and non-MAPAS students. An interpretive methodology was used, and data analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings: This study found both MAPAS and non-MAPAS students have intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to attend and continue medical school. However, the non-MAPAS students had more individualised motivations to study medicine whereas the MAPAS students were more motivated by collectivism. Family and cultural customs influenced MAPAS students’ motivation to study medicine. Non-MAPAS students were influenced by positive school experiences.

Common to both cohorts was the significant influence of family. Non-MAPAS students specified family members’ professions and educational support as influencing factors. In contrast, MAPAS students identified being motivated to study medicine to improve the financial and health situations of their families.

Conclusion: All students have different motivations for attending medical school which is influenced by their culture and environment. Culture encompasses the individual and their family, inclusive of ethnicity, beliefs, values and behaviours. Family plays a crucial role in motivating and influencing students to pursue medicine.

Keywords:         Motivation, Medical Students, Culture, Indigenous, Ethnic Minority

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