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Who wants to do psychiatry?: The influence of a student psychotherapy scheme – a 10-year retrospective study

  • Jessica Yakeley (a1), Peter Shoenberg (a2) and Austin Heady (a3)
Abstract
Aims and Method

The study aimed to determine whether medical students who participated in a student psychotherapy scheme aimed at helping them learn about the doctor-patient relationship were more likely to choose psychiatry as a career than a control group who did not participate. One hundred and ninety-eight medical students who participated in the University College and Middlesex School of Medicine (UCMSM) Psychotherapy Scheme between 1982 and 1992, and 200 randomly selected students of the same period who did not, were sent a questionnaire asking about career choice.

Results

Seventy-seven of 163 participants in the scheme who sent back the questionnaire had not thought about doing psychiatry before entering the scheme. Of these, 11 became psychiatrists (14.3%), compared with only two (1.6%) of the 128 controls (of 152 respondents) who had not considered psychiatry as a career at the same stage. This difference is highly significant (P<0.001). Many of the participants, including those who did not specialise in psychiatry, emphasised how the scheme had helped them understand the doctor-patient relationship.

Implications

Participating in the Student Psychotherapy Scheme encouraged medical students to choose psychiatry as a career. This knowledge is important, particularly in view of the current recruitment crisis in psychiatry.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
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Who wants to do psychiatry?: The influence of a student psychotherapy scheme – a 10-year retrospective study

  • Jessica Yakeley (a1), Peter Shoenberg (a2) and Austin Heady (a3)
Submit a response

eLetters

A solution to the brain drain of developing countries

Dinesh Singh, Psychiatrist
07 June 2004

Yakeley et al provide some evidence of success in addressing the shortage of psychiatrists. The selection bias is noted and the true success of the program may be less impressive. However, this is a substanial effort from the developed countries to increase their output ofpsychiatrists rather than lure them from developing countries like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Bundred and Levit note that the UK increased its output from medical schools by 14 % between 1985-1994, whilst whilst the 27 countries making up the Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) increased the output from medical schools by an average of 26 % over the same period. These may be novel ways to alleviate the shortage of psychiatrists, but it does not go far enough. The developed countries have a moral obligation to make more concrete measures to stop the brain drain.

References:

P E Bundred and C Levitt. "Medical migration: who are the real losers?" The Lancet July 2000;356:245-248

Jessica Yakeley, Peter Shoenberg, and Austin Heady Who wants to do psychiatry?: The influence of a student psychotherapy scheme – a10-year retrospective studyPsychiatr Bull 2004; 28: 208-212

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