Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Pre-Clinical Elective Effects on Intentions to Choose a Career in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Kimberly Hunter, Michele Knox, Afia Hussain


The purpose of this study was to examine first and second year medical students’ level of interest, their knowledge and factors influencing their intent to pursue child psychiatry as a career field. The authors implemented a pre-clinical elective in child and adolescent psychiatry (CAP) for first and second year medical students.  A pre- and post-elective questionnaire was used to evaluate the students’ interest and intentions to select CAP as a career and to evaluate various factors influencing their career choice. Results showed that prior to the elective, 64.3% reported being “Interested” or “Very Interested” in a career in CAP.  Despite this, only 17.9% of the sample reported that they were “Likely” or “Very Likely” to choose a career in CAP.  After the elective, 52.63% reported being likely to choose a career in CAP. Multiple regression revealed that interest predicted intentions for a career in the field, but estimated salary and expected years of residency did not. Patient contact and case discussions were the experiences that students most frequently reported lead them to be more interested in CAP.  Though limited by small sample size, this study provides preliminary information on early exposure of medical students to the field of CAP. Early exposure leads to an increase in students’ interest, knowledge and their intention to choose child psychiatry as a career field. 


child and adolescent psychiatry; medical students; career interest; mental health.

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