Objectives. To identify and evaluate factors affecting the career preferences of fourth-year bachelor of pharmacy (BPharm) students in Malaysia in the presence of a 4-year period of mandatory government service.
Methods. A validated self-administered questionnaire was used in this cross-sectional study to collect data from final-year BPharm students enrolled at 3 government-funded universities and 1 private university in Malaysia. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used for data analysis.
Results. Three hundred fourteen students responded (213 from public universities and 101 from the private university). Approximately 32% of public university students and 37% of private university students ranked their own interest in pharmacy as the reason for undertaking pharmacy degree studies; 40.4% of public and 19.8% of private university respondents stated that they would enter a nonpharmacy- related career upon graduation if given the choice. Public university students ranked hospital pharmacy as their choice of first career setting (4.39, p 5 0.001), while private students ranked community pharmacy first (4.1, p 5 0.002). On a scale of 1 to 5, salary received the highest mean score (3.9 and 4.0, p 5 0.854) as the extrinsic factor most influencing their career choice.
Conclusions. Final-year students at Malaysian public universities were most interested in hospital pharmacy practice as their first career step upon graduation, while private university students were most interested in community pharmacy. The top 3 extrinsic factors rated as significant in selecting a career destination were salary, benefits, and geographical location.