Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A survey of factors influencing career preference in new-entrant and exiting medical students from four UK medical schools

Jennifer A Cleland*, Peter W Johnston, Micheal Anthony, Nadir Khan and Neil W Scott

BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:151  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-151

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Undergraduates Interest in Psychiatry?

Alasdair Forrest   (2014-08-20 14:11)  Parkhead Hospital, Glasgow, Scotland email

Dear Sir, The work of Cleland, et al.,�� on how undergraduates' career aspirations may vary with medical school , will give psychiatrists a fright. Already faced with a grave recruitment problem��, Psychiatry in the UK has tried a number of recruitment initiatives. In Scotland - where this study took place - 8% of ST1 training posts advertised in 2013/14 by Scottish Medical Training were in Psychiatry.�� The board does not administer all training programmes. However, there are more ST1 posts in Psychiatry than in Obstetrics and Gynaecology or in Paediatrics. Psychiatry is hardly a marginal specialty. But how loudly should the alarm bells ring? It could be that the questionnaire design somehow made it difficult for students to express an interest in Psychiatry. This seems unlikely, but would be worrying, given that it is government policy that physical and mental health care have parity of esteem��. It could be that Psychiatry was expressed as a career choice by a small number of students, but their responses were not reported. They may have been fewer in number, say, than the 5% who showed interest in diagnostic specialties. Or is the worst, and most likely, option true? It could be that an insignificant number of students said that they intended to specialise in Psychiatry. If that is the case, the alarm bells should be ringing very noisily indeed. Would the authors be able to publish the numbers interested in Psychiatry by medical school in Years 1 and 5, so we can know how loud to set the klaxon? Yours faithfully, Dr Alasdair Forrest �� Cleland JA, Johnston PW, Anthony M, Khan N, Scott NW. A survey of factors influencing career preference in new-entrant and exiting medical students from four UK medical schools. BMC Medical Education. 2014; 14:151-61. �� Mukherjee K, Maier M, Wessely S. UK crisis in recruitment into psychiatric training. Psychiatric Bulletin. 2013; 37:210-14 �� Scottish Medical Training. Scotland Competition Ratios: 2013/14. [Online]. Available from: http://www.scotmt.scot.nhs.uk/media/467365/scotland-2014-competition-ratios.pdf [Accessed 17 August 2014]. �� Department of Health. Speech by the Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP: Achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health. [Online]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/achieving-parity-of-esteem-between-mental-and-physical-health [Accessed 17 August 2014].

Competing interests

I am a core trainee in Psychiatry.

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