Familiarity breeds respect: attitudes of medical students towards psychiatry following a clinical attachment

Discipline of Psychiatry, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Australasian Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 0.6). 08/2010; 18(4):348-53. DOI: 10.3109/10398561003739612
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The aim of this paper was to examine the influence of a clinical attachment in psychiatry on medical students' attitudes to psychiatry as a specialty and potential career.
Medical students at Sydney Medical School were surveyed following an 8-week clinical attachment in psychiatry. Secondary analyses sought to identify associations with variables such as age, gender and level of clinical experience as a medical student.
Following a clinical attachment in psychiatry, 80% of students rated their attitude to psychiatry as more positive. Approximately 32% rated themselves as likely or very likely to choose a career in psychiatry. No differences were seen with respect to gender, age or stage of training. The quality of the teaching, enthusiasm of the clinical teachers, the holistic approach and scientific basis of psychiatry were cited by students as factors influencing attitudes.
The clinical rotation in psychiatry is a significant factor influencing medical student attitudes towards psychiatry.

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    ABSTRACT: Objective: Learn about perceptions and beliefs regarding psychiatry among undergraduate medicine students and compare their conceptions and appreciations concerning positive and negative aspects, before and after specific training in psychiatry. Methods: Observational, cross-sectional study; qualitative and quantitative research with application of a survey for undergraduate medicine students of the Universidad de La Sabana, before and after a specific psychiatry course. 90 students answered the survey in two groups: one of them before the course, and the other one afterwards; Results: 52,2% corresponded to semesters prior to the course of psychiatry; 25.5% expressed the purpose to specialize in Psychiatry before the course, and such percentage decreased to 13.4% after the course. Association was found between the purpose of not specializing in Psychiatry with the fact of having taken said course (Fisher's exact test, p=0,042). Most students would not specialize in psychiatry because they are interested in other areas. Before the course, students made emphasis on the biological aspects of mental disease. After the course, they also directed their attention to other factors. The two groups believe that the management of these patients is mainly pharmacological. The incurable character of mental illness was also highlighted together with the risk of getting ill and the stigma it entails. Conclusions: Psychiatry is perceived as a medical specialization with emphasis on pharmacological treatment. There is a low frequency of students interested in this area. The course of psychiatry is associated with reduction of this frequency and limits the variability of the psychiatric concept.
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    ABSTRACT: Mental illnesses are a major public health problem around the world and the prevalence and burden of common mental disorders is growing. Psychiatry is an unpopular career choice for many medical students and this impacts negatively on the supply of psychiatrists to the workforce. The psychiatry clerkship can play an important role in influencing students' attitudes towards psychiatry, either positively or negatively. However, stigma towards mental illness detracts students from considering a career in psychiatry. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of an eight week psychiatry clerkship on i) student knowledge and interest in psychiatry; ii) psychiatry as a career choice; iii) attitudes towards psychiatry; and iv) perceptions of stigma towards mental illness. Year 4 medical students at the University of Western Australia completed two questionnaires, the Balon Attitudes Towards Psychiatry and the Mental Illness Clinicians Attitudes (MICA), at the beginning and end of the psychiatry clerkship. Interest in, knowledge of, and consideration of psychiatry as a career were also assessed. Non-parametric tests were used to compare baseline and follow-up differences on the Balon and MICA. Unpaired t-tests compared mean differences for interest, knowledge and psychiatry as a career. Attitudes towards psychiatry were positive at the beginning of the clerkship. Overall, there was a significant decrease in negative and stigmatising views towards mental illness post clerkship measured by the MICA, but the follow-up mean score remained close to the neutral value with views in some areas becoming more negative. There was no significant improvement in students' interest in psychiatry post clerkship, however, knowledge of psychiatry improved significantly. Numbers of students 'definitely considering' psychiatry as a career increased significantly from 7 (4.6%) students at baseline to 17 (10.5%) at follow-up. The clerkship made a modest impact on students' attitudes to psychiatry, stigma and consideration of psychiatry as a career. Integration of strategies to overcome stigma towards mental illness and the mental health profession into pre-clinical teaching may provide students with skills to prepare them for the clerkship. This may assist in improving attitudes towards psychiatry and encourage more students towards a psychiatry career.
    BMC Medical Education 12/2015; 15(1):307. DOI:10.1186/s12909-015-0307-4 · 1.41 Impact Factor


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May 30, 2014