Medical Students' Perceptions of Psychiatry as a Career Choice

Columbia University, New York, New York, United States
Academic Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 0.81). 04/2006; 30(2):144-9. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ap.30.2.144
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study describes medical students' perceptions of the field of psychiatry and identifies the impact of those perceptions on their career choices in order to explore the questions: Are we as a field doing all that we can to enhance the educational experience of all medical students, regardless of their career preferences? What are the most appropriate ways to encourage interested medical students that would allow for more targeted recruitment efforts toward the most receptive students?
Third-year (n=131) and fourth-year medical students (n=117) at a northeastern, urban, private university medical school completed anonymous self-report questionnaires. Students rated the impact of intellectual interest, status, earning potential, healthcare reform, quality of life, satisfaction, and stress of working with psychiatric patients on their consideration of a psychiatric career. Respondents were then systematically divided into two groups: 1) those who considered psychiatry as a possible career choice and 2) those who did not.
When compared to students who had been coded as "not seriously considering" a career in psychiatry, students coded as "seriously considering" gave significantly higher positive ratings to the field's intellectual content and quality of life. There were also significant differences between the groups regarding the satisfaction involved in working with psychiatric patients. Students from both groups were equally concerned about stress levels in the field.
Acknowledging, discussing, and providing a context for stressful experiences during the psychiatry clerkship are likely to bring about productive approaches to improve recruitment into the field as well as to improve all students' psychiatric education.

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    • "Other commonly cited reasons included coming to the view that psychiatry was 'scientific', 'fascinating' and 'holistic'. In common with previous research, a view of psychiatry being associated with high quality of life also appeared to be a significant factor (Goldacre, Turner et al. 2005; Cutler, Alspector et al. 2006; Wigney and Parker 2008; Robertson, Walter et al. 2009). "
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    • "This impact occurred despite students finding (1) their preclinical exposure to psychiatry appealing, (2) the in-depth relationships that they developed with psychiatric patients engaging, and (3) the opportunity to observe psychiatric patients' status improve impressive. Our results do not indicate that students observed psychiatric faculty and residents with whom they worked as ''stressed'' (Cutler et al. 2006 "
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