Early career doctors' experiences of psychiatry placements: A qualitative study

Jigna Stott, Jack Haywood, Paul Crampton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: On completion of a medical degree, junior doctors in the UK undergo a 2 year Foundation Programme. Since 2016, 45% of Foundation Programme doctors are required to undertake a psychiatry placement during foundation training. During this time, recruitment to Core Psychiatry Training has fluctuated, dropping to a 69% fill rate in 2017.

METHODS: With the support of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Health Education England and the UK Foundation Programme Office, a large-scale study was formulated utilising semi-structured focus groups. These exploring participant experiences help to understand how and if the psychiatry foundation placements are valuable, and their potential influence on a trainee choosing psychiatry as a career. A framework analysis was used to analyse data.

RESULTS: Seventy-four participants across 10 foundation schools in England participated. Experiences and perceptions were split into three broad themes; pre-placement, during placement, and post-placement. Within these, 12 sub-themes emerged. Doctors valued independence and responsibility especially if accompanied by a level of support from seniors. They also enjoyed working as part of a multi-disciplinary team. However, there were clear issues around staffing levels, stigma attached to psychiatry, and out of hours working.

DISCUSSION: The pre-placement perceptions of psychiatry as a specialty as well as the trainees' personal priorities for career selection were influenced by psychiatry placement experiences. The results have important implications for the recruitment to the specialty and need to be considered when designing and constructing placement aims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1196-1202
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Career Choice
  • Humans
  • Physicians
  • Psychiatry
  • Qualitative Research
  • United Kingdom

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