In order to develop strategies for raising the interest of medical students in a career in elderly care medicine (a specialty in The Netherlands) we should start by gaining more insight into the process influencing career choices among medical students and graduates. In this qualitative study we conducted three focus group discussions with trainees in elderly care medicine and two focus group discussions with obstetrics and gynaecology trainees. We found that all trainees made their career choice after clinical exposure in the field. The elderly care medicine trainees did not make their choice until after graduation, working in temporary employment in a nursing home. The obstetrics and gynaecology trainees made their specialty choice during medical school after their clerkship. Almost all focus group participants had a very negative perception during medical school about geriatrics and elderly care medicine. Once they were employed in a nursing home they changed their minds. They came to realize the work was more interesting, more difficult, more intensive and more meaningful than they had initially thought.