University of Tasmania

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Medical students' attitudes towards a career in psychiatry before and after viewing a promotional DVD

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 18:50 authored by Robertson, T, Walter, G, Soh, N, Hunt, G, Cleary, M, Malhi, G

OBJECTIVES: The objectives were, first, to determine attitudes towards psychiatry as a career among medical students currently enrolled at the University of Sydney and, second, to establish the immediate impact on those attitudes of a promotional DVD, released by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

METHOD: Medical students enrolled in the University of Sydney in 2008 were invited to complete a voluntary online questionnaire, in which their attitudes towards psychiatry were explored, and the immediate effects of a 15-minute DVD were ascertained.

RESULTS: A total of 123 students participated. Only one student identified psychiatry as their chosen career. Medical students viewed psychiatry as the least attractive specialty for the degree to which patients are helped effectively and in terms of having a reliable scientific foundation. However, it rated well in regard to being intellectually challenging, a rapidly advancing field of medicine, and providing research opportunities and a good lifestyle. Psychiatry is less respected than most other specialties by students and they perceive this discipline to be poorly respected by other medical students and current medical practitioners. After viewing the DVD, there were improved student ratings of the benefits of a career in psychiatry, especially in relation to the specialty being enjoyable, offering effective treatment and having a scientific foundation. There was also enhanced understanding of the role of a psychiatrist in just over half of the participants and increased interest in psychiatry in about 30% of participants. The DVD was most effective in increasing awareness of the diversity of subspecialties available within psychiatry, good lifestyle factors, and the training involved.

CONCLUSION: Among medical students, psychiatry is perceived as unattractive and fails to command the respect afforded other specialties. The viewing of a promotional DVD by medical students was found to be effective in improving their attitudes towards psychiatry and increasing their interest in pursuing a career in the specialty. However, the long-term impact of this modest improvement is unknown and the low survey response rate limits the extent to which the results can be generalized.


Publication title

Australasian psychiatry : bulletin of Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists










School of Health Sciences


Blackwell Science

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2009 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Mental health

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