Factors Related to Choosing Psychiatry as a Future Medical Career among Medical Students at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Indonesia

Article excerpt


Objective: To identify factors related to choosing psychiatry as a future medical career and attitude towards psychiatry among medical students of the International Class Programme of the Faculty of Medicine, The University of Indonesia.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional design which included 225 data sets from first to sixth year medical students (n = 188) as well as the freshly graduated medical doctors (n = 37). The Attitude Towards Psychiatry-30 questionnaire (ATP-30) was adopted. Data including demographics, past experience in psychiatry, inclination to work in psychiatry, and 3 specialty choices for future medical career were collected. Independent t test and logistic regression were used in data analysis.

Results: The mean ATP-30 score from the fresh graduates was slightly higher compared with the medical students. Inclination to work in the field of psychiatry, past experience in psychiatry, and the ATP-30 score were significantly correlated and contributed 57% to the prediction of choosing psychiatry as a future medical career (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: The greater inclination to work in the field of psychiatry, as well as a better attitude towards psychiatry can predict the choice of psychiatry as a future medical career. Therefore, it is very important to increase the quality of psychiatry teaching and to motivate medical students who show a high level of interest in psychiatry.

Key words: Career choice; Questionnaires; Students, medical


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The Faculty of Medicine of The University of Indonesia (FMUI) announced the International Class Programme in 2000, using English as the basic medium of instruction. It aims to train up medical doctors who can compete with those from other countries and possess internationally recognised competencies.

The system of teaching and learning is mostly student-based and problem-based. From the first to the sixth semester the curriculum consists of medical science education, integrated basic medical science, and basic clinical skills. Students are exposed to neuropsychiatry in the Neuroscience module, psychosocial development in the Growth and Development module, and finally they go to the Neurology and Psychiatry module for 6 weeks. During that period, students do not have any exposure to patients.

After finishing the third year, they are sent to the University of Melbourne, Australia for research activities for a year. During the fifth and sixth years, they are posted to undertake clinical practice in several departments. Clinical practice in the Department of Psychiatry is run over a 3-week period. They work with inpatient and outpatient clinics and finally have to record their case and present it at an oral examination.

Research on the attitude of medical students towards psychiatry was extensively documented many years ago. The aim of this research was to determine what difficulties there were in recruiting medical graduates to specialise in psychiatry.1,2 The study from Al-Ansari and Alsadadi3 showed that the first, fourth, and seventh year medical students' exposure to psychiatry did not improve their Attitude Towards Psychiatry-30 (ATP-30) score. In addition, few reports demonstrated any positive attitudinal change towards psychiatry among medical students following exposure to the psychiatry teaching programme.4,5

Several studies showed that the number of people with mental disorders has been increasing worldwide, nevertheless only a small proportion of medical graduates were willing to pursue this specialty.6,7 Notably, the number of international medical graduates with the intention of choosing psychiatry as their future medical specialty decreased from approximately 10% in the 1960s, to only about 2 to 5% in the last decade.8-11 A study in Ireland6 also reported that only 4% of interns considered psychiatry as a career choice. …


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