Shrinking away from psychiatry? A survey of Australian medical students' interest in psychiatry

Gin S. Malhi, Gordon B. Parker, kay Parker, Kenneth C. Kirkby, Philip Boyce, Peter Mackinlay Yellowlees, Charles Hornabrook, Ken Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Objective: We sought to examine the attitudes of newly recruited medical students towards psychiatry and other specialties to determine what factors influence their career choice options. Method: We surveyed the attitudes of 655 medical students using a 31-item self-report questionnaire. Results: Australian medical students rated the ability to help patients as the most important aspect of a specialty in determining their choice. Attraction to psychiatry was based on the specialty being interesting and intellectually challenging, and providing a career that promised job satisfaction with good prospects and enjoyable work. Females expressed a greater interest in psychiatry and were more likely to consider pursuing it as a career, principally due to a greater interest in the subject matter and a stronger desire for interaction with patients. The least attractive aspects of psychiatry were its lack of prestige among the medical community and a perceived absence of a scientific foundation. Conclusion: The attitudes of medical students can perhaps be modified and recruitment into psychiatry enhanced by presenting the reality of psychiatry today -namely the wide range of available therapeutic processes, the predominantly positive outcomes, the interesting and intellectually challenging nature of the subject and its nurturing and accommodating work environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-423
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes
  • Career
  • Medical students
  • Postgraduate training
  • Psychiatry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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