Factors Affecting Recruitment into Psychiatry: A Canadian Experience

Timothy Lau, Delara Zamani, Elliott Kyung Lee*, Khashayar D. Asli, Jasbir Gill, Nancy Brager, Raed Hawa, Wei Yi Song, Eunice Gill, Renee Fitzpatrick, Natasja M. Menezes, Vu H. Pham, Alan Bruce Douglass, Suzanne Allain, Greg B. Meterissian, Nadine Gagnon, Hadi Toeg, Cheryl Murphy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: There is a projected shortage of psychiatrists in Canada in forthcoming years. This study assessed factors in medical school education that are associated with students selecting psychiatry first and matching as a discipline. Method: The Canadian Organization of Undergraduate Psychiatry Educators (COUPE) conducted telephone interviews and sent e-mail questionnaires to the 17 medical schools across Canada; all schools provided data for 2012. Relevant data were obtained from the Canadian Resident Matching Service. Statistics were performed using v12 STATA program, and significance was set at a p value of <0.05. Results: Medical student enrollment ranged from 54 to 266 students (mean=158±16). Of these students, 4.9±0.6 % ranked psychiatry as their first choice for residency. Final match results yielded similar numbers at 5.0±0.6 %. Ten out of 17 programs filled all psychiatry residency positions, whereas the remaining 7 programs had vacancy rates from 5 to 100 % (mean=43.4±15.1 %). Medical students were exposed to an average of 2.8±0.5 pre-clerkship psychiatry weeks and 6.2±0.3 clerkship weeks. Linear regression analysis demonstrated that the percentage of graduating medical students entering a psychiatry residency program could be predicted from the number of weeks of pre-clerkship exposure (p=0.01; R 2=0.36) but not from the number of clerkship weeks (p=0.74). Conclusions: This study indicates that the duration of pre-clerkship exposure to psychiatry predicts the number of students selecting psychiatry as their first choice as a discipline. Thus, increasing the duration of pre-clerkship exposure may increase the enrollment of medical students into psychiatry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-252
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 11 2015


  • Career choice
  • Medical students
  • Pre-clerkship
  • Psychiatry
  • Recruitment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Education


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