Recruiting Researchers in Psychiatry: The Influence of Residency vs. Early Motivation
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The declining numbers of clinician-researchers in psychiatry and other medical specialties has been a subject of growing concern. Residency training has been cited as an important factor in recruiting new researchers, but there are essentially no data to support this assertion. This study aimed to explore which factors have influenced motivation to conduct research among senior psychiatry residents.
The authors surveyed senior residents, inquiring about their level of interest in research, demographics, background, research experiences, and factors influencing motivation for research. The authors had confirmed participation from 16 of 33 residency programs with a class size of 10 or more. They received 127 responses, a 67% response rate, from participating programs.
Residents with high stated interest in research differed from those with low and moderate interest in their research-intense post-residency plans. They were more likely to have graduate degrees. Those planning research careers had a consistent pattern of interest and involvement in research, starting well before residency. The majority of residents had had research exposure in college, but research involvement of those with very high versus lower interest diverged sharply thereafter. Those with high research interest were overwhelmingly male and tended to have lower debt than those with less interest.
The great majority of residents appear to have decided whether or not to pursue a research career by the time they reached residency, and few of those with less than the highest research interest were enrolled in research tracks. Efforts to increase recruitment into research should center on identifying early developmental influences, eliminating barriers specific to women, and ensuring adequate funding to provide secure careers for talented potential researchers.
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