attitudes; career choice; clerkship; medical students; mental illness stigma; psychiatry education


Medical Education | Psychiatry



Stigma associated with mental illness (MI) permeates many professions, including healthcare. Recognizing and correcting bias is critical in delivering impartial and beneficial healthcare for all patients. Early educational interventions providing exposure to individuals with MI have shown to be effective at reducing MI stigma. The primary aim of our study was to assess the impact of a psychiatry clerkship on attitudes to MI. A secondary aim was to determine if the psychiatry clerkship influenced medical students’ perceptions of psychiatry as a career.


A cohort of third-year medical students in Florida was invited to complete an online survey before and after participating in their first 4-week-long psychiatry clerkship during the 2021-2022 academic year. The voluntary, anonymous survey consisted of the Attitudes to Mental Illness Questionnaire (AMIQ) and a 3-item questionnaire on interest and knowledge in psychiatry. The Wilcoxon Sign-Rank test was used to determine statistical significance (P < .05) for pre- and post-clerkship values.


Among 39 invited students, 22 participated before (56.4%), and 23 participated after their psychiatry rotation (59.0%). Overall, there was a statistically significant increase in the perceived level of general interest in psychiatry (P = .027), psychiatry knowledge (P < .001), and career interest in psychiatry (P = .040). There was also a significant decrease in the stigmatized attitude score for depression and self-harm after their psychiatry rotation (P = .042). Finally, the participants initially showed the highest stigmatized attitude score for intravenous drug abuse among the 4 mental illnesses presented, which also included depression and suicidal ideation, alcohol use disorder, and schizophrenia.


The findings suggest that a psychiatry clerkship provided a positive exposure to the field, enhanced medical students’ overall interest in psychiatry, and positively impacted medical students’ attitudes towards MI.