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


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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Available from: Mark J Graham, Mar 02, 2015
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    • "Watson (2004) finds that the possibility of receiving a sponsorship/bursary can highly influence the career choice of students especially if tuition fees are financially demanding. Cutler et al. (2006) find that medical students in the field of psychiatry rate the field's intellectual content and quality of life as some of the significant motivating factors influencing career choice. According to Bojuwoye and Mbanjwa (2006), career development is a socially constructed process involving complex interactions among different structures, forces, and systems all constituting spheres of influence. "
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    ABSTRACT: The primary objective of the study was to determine the factors that influence the career choice of international students in South Africa. The study used the quantitative research approach and a descriptive research design. Data for the research was gathered through the use of self-administered questionnaire in a survey. The participants in the survey were international students pursuing business related courses at two universities located in the Limpopo and Gauteng provinces of South Africa. Convenience and snowball sampling methods were used to collect data from seventy five respondents. The results indicated that there are multiple influences on the career choice of international students. The most important determinants of the career choice of international students pursuing business courses are the interest in the course, the prestige of the course, the prospect of well-paying jobs, bright future prospects, and the influence of job opportunities, the influence of parents and the subjects passed at Matric or equivalent level. © 2014, Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. All rights reserved.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences
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    • "Part of this reluctance might also stem from the potential negative consequences on a physician’s career if they disclose having a mental illness, as medicine is a regulated profession in which disclosure of a mental illness can limit a physician’s ability to practice [20]. It has also been postulated that the stigma of mental illness contributes to the shortage of medical students choosing a psychiatric career, due to perceptions of it being an unrewarding and stressful profession [17,21,22]. Students are exposed to a medical culture in which psychiatrists have a more pessimistic view of mental illness than those in the general public [7-9]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The stigma of mental illness among medical students is a prevalent concern that has far reaching negative consequences. Attempts to combat this stigma through educational initiatives have had mixed results. This study examined the impact of a one-time contact-based educational intervention on the stigma of mental illness among medical students and compared this with a multimodal undergraduate psychiatry course at the University of Calgary, Canada that integrates contact-based educational strategies. Attitudes towards mental illness were compared with those towards type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). A cluster-randomized trial design was used to evaluate the impact of contact-based educational interventions delivered at two points in time. The impact was assessed by collecting data at 4 time points using the Opening Minds Scale for Health Care Providers (OMS-HC) to assess changes in stigma. Baseline surveys were completed by 62% (n=111) of students before the start of the course and post-intervention ratings were available from 90 of these. Stigma scores for both groups were significantly reduced upon course completion (p < 0.0001), but were not significantly changed following the one-time contact based educational intervention in the primary analysis. Student confidence in working with people with a mental illness and interest in a psychiatric career was increased at the end of the course. Stigma towards mental illness remained greater than for T2DM at all time points. Psychiatric education can decrease the stigma of mental illness and increase student confidence. However, one-time, contact-based educational interventions require further evaluation in this context. The key components are postulated to be contact, knowledge and attention to process, where attending to the student's internal experience of working with people with mental illness is an integral factor in modulating perceptions of mental illness and a psychiatric career.
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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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