Letters to the Editor
Recruiting Residents Through a Summer Medical Student Program
Two recent publications describe the shrinking number of medical students who choose psychiatry (1) or, specifically, child psychiatry (2) as a career and review potential reasons for this decrease. I would like to describe a program that seems to interest students in the rewards of a career in psychiatry. This summer program is offered to students following their first or second year of medical school.
This program provides a paid, 8-week clinical experience. All students who apply for the 3 available positions are interviewed. Selection is based upon interest in a career in one of these specialties demonstrated by past successful involvement with children and adolescents, confirmed through reference checks.
There are 3 parts to the experience. First, students are given an extensive list of opportunities to learn about children with developmental disabilities or psychiatric disorders, or both, and also to learn about the various professionals in the multidisciplinary teams who work with these children. They are asked to take advantage of as many of these opportunities as possible and to keep a diary of their experience. In weekly meetings with the coordinator, the diaries are reviewed to ensure that students are engaged in a broad experience. The second requirement is a weekly case presentation. Students interview a child, review the file, and speak to other involved professionals. Over the course of the summer, students are expected to present 1 case from each residential clinical unit, so that by the end of the experience they have personally seen a range of problems. The final requirement is that students individually or collectively present a topic of interest at medical rounds or another suitable formal occasion. The students have an opportunity to write up a case under the direction of a medical geneticist and to do an original research project, medical peer assessment, or program evaluation project. This generally forms the basis of their presentation.
To date, of the participating students who have entered or submitted applications to enter postgraduate training (n = 10), 5 have enrolled in family medicine, and 5 have enrolled in psychiatry or pediatrics. (By contrast, when our program focused upon service delivery, there was no pattern to the summer students’ postgraduate training choice.) The students choosing family medicine are interested in rural practice and have indicated in interview that they will need more training in these areas than is available in the basic curriculum. We continue to follow up on the summer students who have not yet declared their postgraduate training choice.
1. Zikos E. Recruitment in psychiatry: “shrinking” interest? CPA Bulletin 2002;34(1):40–2.
2. Parker Z, Steele M, Junek W, Morin L, Davidson S, Fleisher W, and others. Child psychiatry in Canada: physician resources. Position statement of the Canadian Academy of Child Psychiatry, January 22, 2002.
Greta Toni Swart, PhD, MD, FRCPC