The relevance of educational attainments of parents of medical students for health workforce planning: data from Guiné-Bissau

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Background: In this article, we analyze data collected in the context of health workforce planning (HWFP) for Guiné-Bissau as part of the development of the third National Health Strategy, to study the relationship between educational achievement of parents and medical student characteristics and professional expectations. Methods: Cross-sectional analytical study of all first-year medical students in Guiné-Bissau during December 2016. Results: Our results confirm that the isolated effect of each parent is different as it is the combined education of both parents. Parental influence also seems to vary according to the sex of the offspring. The higher the education of the father, the stronger the urban background of the offspring. Level of education of parents is also important in relation to the decision to study medicine and the age of starting those studies. It is also an important influence as to expectation regarding place of future practice: the highest the educational level, particularly of the father, the highest the expectation for a future urban practice. Conclusions: Our main interest in medical education is to study it as a health system intervention in order to contribute to health system’s strengthening in fragile states. This is discussed in the context of two frameworks: the labor market framework and WHO’s health system strengthening framework. Our data and that of others, recognize that household characteristics are important regarding future training and a future career in the health sector. This recognition should be integrated into HWFP frameworks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number90
Pages (from-to)90-95
Number of pages6
JournalHuman resources for health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2020


  • Guiné-Bissau health workforce planning
  • Level of education of parents
  • Medical students
  • Social reproduction of gender inequality


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