To the Editor:
We would like to thank Dr. Sharma  for the interest in our work and appreciate the thoughtful and valuable comments. Dr. Sharma is particularly concerned about the findings of our study being used to select students who are “mirror images” of current psychiatry residents and faculty. The purpose of our research, however, was not to identify criteria or guidelines to select future psychiatrists. Instead, we sought to provide psychiatry educators opportunities to attract candidates to the field by discovering millennial interns’ motivations to pursue a career in psychiatry.
For example, a student’s background, values, and/or personality traits may lead a faculty member to take notice, especially if those include a strong interest in social justice, an ability to tolerate ambiguity, or an interest in literature and art. Helping such a student realize how those elements connect to a career in psychiatry could be eye-opening for that student. Conversely, students drawn to the field may recognize in themselves qualities observed in their residents/attendings. More opportunities for engagement between students, residents, and attendings will allow students to make their own identifications with current psychiatrists. True, this identification may lead similar types of people to gravitate toward the field, but this phenomenon is what participants described in our study. In our research, the identifications were made around being empathic, compassionate, and kind, to name a few. Those are the qualities we should want all future psychiatrists to have.
Knowing that this identification process plays a role in students’ choice to become a psychiatrist, we speculate that one way to increase workforce diversity might be for educators to provide students exposure to psychiatrists embodying various aspects of diversity, including gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion. However, increasing diversity within the field, although an important topic, was not the focus of this manuscript and deserves its own future study.
Sharma RK (2020) Comment on: “Millennials in psychiatry: exploring career choice factors in generation Y psychiatry interns.” Acad Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40596-020-01318-6. Epub ahead of print
Funding for this study was provided by the Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry.
The Emory University IRB (primary site) and the IRBs from all the participating institutions (listed under affiliations) designated this study to be exempt from review.
Dr. Jeffrey J Rakofsky receives research funding from Takeda and National Institutes of Mental Health.
Dr. Richard Balon is an editor for the journal Academic Psychiatry. Manuscripts that are authored by an editor undergo the same editorial review process applied to all manuscripts, including double-blinded peer review.
All other authors have no disclosures.
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Rakofsky, J.J., Russo, R.A., Dallaghan, G.B. et al. Authors’ Response to Comment on “Millennials in Psychiatry: Exploring Career Choice Factors in Generation Y Psychiatry Interns”. Acad Psychiatry 44, 811 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40596-020-01323-9