The presence of a national cohort of trainees entering psychiatric residency allowed an assessment of contemporary factors influencing their particular program choices. Factors of specific interest included the effect on program choice of relationships with significant others and government attitudes to fiscal restraint, mental health care reform, and licensure.
A self-administered questionnaire was sent to 110 trainees identified in the 16 Canadian university departments of psychiatry who began training in July 1994.
While a committed relationship was a primary determinant of program choice, government policies attempting to influence patterns of care had little effect.
A strong commitment to undergraduate teaching will improve the attractiveness of psychiatry as a career. This must include exposure of students to teachers who mentor practice patterns attuned to provincial mental health reforms, since government initiatives alone, developed to promote desired transitions in psychiatric care, will not influence training program choice.