Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 35–42 | Cite as

Impact of the Psychiatry Clerkship on Medical Student Attitudes Towards Psychiatry and to Psychiatry as a Career

  • Zaza LyonsEmail author



The psychiatry clerkship forms part of the core curriculum of medical schools worldwide and provides psychiatric educators with an ideal opportunity to positively influence students. The aim of this paper is to systematically review literature on the impact of the psychiatry clerkship to determine the effect on attitudes towards psychiatry and to psychiatry as a career.


A systematic review was undertaken. The following key search words were used to search a number of electronic databases: medical student/s, attitude/s, psychiatry and clerkship. Studies published in the English language from 1990 to the present were included. Studies were included if they were based on a pre-/post-design, i.e. the same students must have participated in the study both before and after the clerkship.


Twenty-six studies from 19 countries were identified for the review. Sixteen studies reported an overall improvement in attitudes towards psychiatry post-clerkship, and ten found no change in attitudes. In terms of career choice, nine studies reported an increase in the number of students interested in psychiatry as a career post-clerkship, nine found no impact on career choice and, in eight studies, it was not assessed. A number of positive and negative factors regarding the clerkship were identified.


Overall, the psychiatry clerkship has a positive impact on students' attitudes towards psychiatry, but does not improve interest in psychiatry as a career option. For those students particularly interested in psychiatry, the challenge is to maintain their enthusiasm post-clerkship. Charismatic teachers, mentorship and stigma reduction may be effective strategies. Future research needs to more clearly identify specific components of the clerkship that are viewed favorably by students.


Medical student Impact Clerkship Attitudes Psychiatry 



No conflicts of interest are identified in the preparation of this article.


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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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