"I Started to Feel Like a 'Real Doctor'": Medical Students' Reflections on Their Psychiatry Clerkship

Dawnelle J. Schatte, Nicole Piemonte, Mark Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: Medical students' reflective journals can be a rich source for understanding what students learn and think about during clinical rotations and can offer educators and mentors insight into students' professional identity formation. The aim of this paper is to ascertain, from reflective accounts, students' development and reactions to psychiatry following their psychiatry clerkship. Method: The patterns, recurrent categories, and themes in 100 psychiatry clerks' reflective journals were analyzed using grounded theory. Constant comparative method was employed to identify and quantify emergent themes and uncover relationships between these themes. Results: The most common "unprompted" themes that students reported were the recognition of the complexity of the illness condition and the fact that the psychiatric patient does not exist in a vacuum (52 %); an acknowledgement of one's respect for the struggle of patients with mental illness (49 %); an expressed or demonstrated empathy for patients (48 %); and a reduced skepticism of the biological basis of mental illness and efficacy of treatments (46 %). Conclusion: Reflective exercises - along with quality mentorship - can be used to understand students' experience with clinical encounters, facilitate change, refine assumptions among students, and promote critical self-assessment and personal growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-274
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 11 2015


  • Clerkship
  • Medical education
  • Mentorship
  • Professional identity formation
  • Psychiatry
  • Reflective journals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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