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Psychiatry as a career choice among medical students: a cross-sectional study examining school-related and non-school factors

Psychiatry as a career choice among medical students: a cross-sectional study examining school-related and non-school factors

BMJ Open 8(8): E022201

Given the low recruitment to psychiatry worldwide, the current study aimed to examine how premedical and intramedical school factors, perception of career aspects, attitudes towards psychiatry, stigma towards mental illness and personality traits may affect the likelihood of psychiatry as a career choice. Cross-sectional online study. 502 medical students from two public medical institutions in Singapore. We critically examined existing literature for factors identified to influence psychiatry as a career choice and explored their effects in a group of medical students in Singapore. To avoid overloading the regression model, this analysis only included variables shown to have significant association (p<0.05) with the outcome variable from the initial Χ2 test and independent t-test analyses. A considerable number of non-medical school factors such as preschool influence and interest, personality traits and importance of a high status specialty in medicine were found to affect students' choice of psychiatry as a career. Among medical school factors, attending a psychiatry/mental health club was the only influential factor. Negative attitudes towards psychiatry, but not stigma towards people with mental illness, significantly predicted the likelihood of not choosing psychiatry as a career. Improving educational environment or teaching practice in psychiatric training may aid in future recruitment for psychiatrists. While the changing of premedical school influences or personality factors may be infeasible, medical schools and psychiatry institutes could play a more critical role by enhancing enrichment activities or clerkship experience to bring about a more positive attitudinal change towards psychiatry among students who did consider a career in psychiatry.

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Accession: 065446776

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PMID: 30121607

DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022201

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