BackgroundShortages of qualified health workers have been a global concern, especially in developing countries. China also faces this dilemma, which hinders the development of public health services. Senior high school students are a group who are considering their college majors and careers after graduation. They are also a potential and basic talent reserve for the health sector. This survey focused on senior high school students’ intention to learn clinical medicine and explored potential influencing factors.MethodsAn anonymous questionnaire containing 20 items was distributed to 5344 senior high school students. The questions covered the following topics: students’ intention to learn clinical medicine, personal and family information, understanding of medical education, cognition of doctors’ working conditions, and doctor-patient relationships. Logistic regression and the chi-square test were used to compare students with and without a clear intention to learn clinical medicine to explore influencing factors.ResultsOnly 5.6% of senior high school students had a clear intention to learn medicine (CILCM). Personal and family information had distinct impacts. Interest and anatomy course were also associated with students’ choice. There was a positive correlation between understanding of medical education and students’ intention Meanwhile, students’ cognition of doctors, career prospects, and social status had significant impacts. The more optimistic students were about doctors’ working conditions and doctor-patient relationships, the more likely they were to have a CILCM.ConclusionTo some extent, this survey reflects the shortage of medical talent in China and provides possible clues for solving this problem. In addition, these findings may provide a perspective for understanding the development of health services in developing countries.