Attitudes of pakistani medical students towards psychiatry as a prospective career: a survey.

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Objective: Pakistan is facing a shortage of psychiatrists, there are about 350 psychiatrists in a country of 150 million. Medical specialty choice surveys of medical students have approached this issue from various angles. The authors' objective is to explore the attitudes of Pakistani medical students toward psychiatry as their future career. Methods: Third-year medical students from four medical colleges in different regions of Pakistan participated. A questionnaire was hand distributed and collected in each medical college by a contact person who was not affiliated with the department of psychiatry in any of the medical colleges included in the survey. Results: The response rate was 60% out of a sample of 381 students. The mean age was 21 years, and 57% were female. The majority (98.4%) were Muslims. Respondents were similar in all demographic characteristics except household income. Only 7.6% reported psychiatry to be either their chosen career or a highly likely choice. A Friedman test found a significant difference in mean scores of ratings of the attractiveness of various career aspects of different specialties. Conclusions: Relatively small numbers of students identified psychiatry as their specialty of choice. This trend is similar to many other studies. Given the small number of practicing psychiatrists in Pakistan, this finding is not very encouraging.


Academic Psychiatry : The Journal of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training and the Association for Academic Psychiatry