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Acad Psychiatry. 2005 Spring;29(1):47-51.

The "shrinking" clerkship: characteristics and length of clerkships in psychiatry undergraduate education.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, 135 North Pauline, 6th Floor, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.



The authors explored the time that is currently devoted to psychiatry clerkships to determine whether "shortened" clerkships differ in course director satisfaction and evaluation strategies.


An 18-item questionnaire was sent to 150 U.S. and Canadian clerkship directors.


The return rate was 74% (111 questionnaires). Clerkship length ranged from 4 to 8 weeks, with 6 weeks being most common (49.5% of clerkships). Only 18.9% had clerkships lasting 8 full weeks. Shorter clerkships were more likely to rely on the NBME subject test, and less likely to rely on Objective Standardized Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) or oral examinations. Most clerkship directors (81.9%) felt their evaluation procedures reflected their clerkship objectives. Among those who did not or were not sure, a majority (77.7%) felt having too few weeks was among the causes, except for 8-week clerkship directors, who did not mention clerkship length as an issue.


The number of clerkships having 2 full months devoted to psychiatry has decreased in recent years. Shorter clerkships rely heavily on the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Subject Examination as an evaluation tool, testing for book knowledge rather than clinical skills.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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