Introduction The emergence of the novel coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) has led to huge disruptions in the medical field and society. The significance of training and education for experts has been increasingly acknowledged in Japan, where the number of infectious disease (ID) specialists is reportedly insufficient. In this paper, we report the results of a web-based survey that was conducted to reveal the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced medical students’ awareness of ID specialists and future career choices. Method This cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in March 2021 and targeted 717 medical students belonging to Medical School of Okayama University, Japan. The questionnaire consisted of four questions meant to assess students’ knowledge and future intentions of becoming ID specialists. Results We obtained 328 eligible questionnaires (response rate: 45.7%). Of 227 (69.2%) students who were aware of ID specialists, 99 (43.6%) answered that they came to know about them only after the pandemic, 12 (3.7%) answered that their interest in being an ID specialist arose during the pandemic, while 36 (11.0%) responded that they would rather not become ID specialists. At the time of the survey, 5 students (1.5%) were aiming to become ID specialists. Conclusion We observed a very low rate of interest to be an ID specialist among medical students. The experience of the pandemic does not seem to have influenced Japanese medical students to choose ID as a specialty for their careers. Continuous efforts to increase the number of ID specialists are necessary in Japan as a countermeasure against the coming pandemic.
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