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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 50 (2008) 1, 9 - 17

New research

The interest shown by medical students and recently qualified doctors in a career in psychiatry

J.K. Tijdink, M.B.M. Soethout, G.F. Koerselman, Th.J. ten Cate

background In view of the current shortage of psychiatrists in the Netherlands it is important to find out what attracts medical students and recently qualified doctors to a career in psychiatry.
aim To discover what aspects of psychiatry are of interest to medical students and recently qualified doctors and to determine what interest profile is suited to the practice of psychiatry.
method Medical students and recently qualified doctors from the Free University medical school in Amsterdam and from Utrecht University medical school completed a questionnaire which investigated why certain specialisms, including psychiatry, were chosen as future careers, and which also examined the appeal of 47 aspects of a career in medicine.
results About 30% of the students expressed an interest in becoming psychiatrist. The interest was slightly greater among first-year students but decreased in the course of their medical training. About 6% of recently qualified doctors actually work in psychiatry and a larger percentage want to become psychiatrist in five years' time. The interest profile of persons interested in psychiatry differs from that of persons not interested in psychiatry and is different for men and women.
conclusion The interest of students in a career in psychiatry decreases in the course of their medical training. This is in keeping with the general decrease in interest in any other career in medicine and probably reflects the current increasing focus on only one single medical specialism. The interest profile of persons interested in a career in psychiatry lies more in the communicative and psychosocial sphere and is focused in relationships that develop during long-term treatment rather than on medical-technical aspects. After qualifying as doctors, women with an interest in psychiatry often develop an interest in improvisation, diagnostics and pharmacotherapy.

keywords psychiatry, interest, medicine