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April 1996

The Effect of the Pediatric Clerkship on Medical Student Attitudes Toward Pediatrics at 11 Medical Schools

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Dr Kaplowitz) and Biostatistics (Mr Boyle and Dr Lu), Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150(4):435-439. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170290101018

Objectives:  To investigate how the pediatric clerkship affected student attitudes toward pediatrics, and to determine if correlations existed between changes in attitudes toward pediatrics and in ratings of certain aspects of the clerkship with an increased interest in a pediatric career.

Methods:  A one-page survey measuring interest in a career in pediatrics and agreement or disagreement with seven statements about pediatrics was administered at the beginning and end of the pediatric clerkship at 11 medical schools for the 1992-1993 academic year.

Results:  The proportion of students with a strong interest in a pediatric career increased from 6.7% before the clerkship to 15.2% after the clerkship (for women, 11% to 22%; for men, 4% to 11%). Attitudes toward pediatrics were more favorable at the end vs the beginning of the clerkship. The change that correlated best with change in interest in a pediatrics career was agreement that children are enjoyable to work with. Of the eight aspects of the clerkship rated, the patients worked with on the ward received the most positive mean score. The item that correlated best with increased career interest was a positive feeling toward the ward residents.

Conclusions:  The recent trend for women to have a greater interest in careers in pediatrics than men is continuing. Finding ways to make students more comfortable when they interact with children and improving the teaching skills of residents could improve recruitment of medical students into pediatrics.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150:435-439)