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