This study utilised qualitative methods to explore medical students' experiences of a clinical attachment in psychiatry and examine the impact of these on career intentions. Fifteen 4th-year students from the University of Bristol were interviewed and their responses analysed.
Four key themes of role models, difference, stigma and career choice emerged from the analysis. Role models could be more influential than the specialty when choosing career options. Many students experienced psychiatry as being different to other specialties. For some this was a reason not to pursue psychiatry as a career but for others it was a positive aspect of the specialty. Stigma arose from a variety of sources, notably from medical students themselves.
These findings are relevant given the current recruitment problems in psychiatry and need to be considered in the planning and delivery of undergraduate medical education.
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