"Bashing" of medical specialties: students' experiences and recommendations

Fam Med. 2008 Jun;40(6):400-6.


Background and objectives: Exposure to non-constructive criticism of medical specialties is believed to be fairly common among medical students. Better understanding of this "bashing" phenomenon is needed to promote greater professionalism in medical education and student interest in primary care careers. This study examines exposure and reactions to bashing among third-year medical students in a public university.

Methods: A survey assessing amount, sources, targets, and nature of perceived bashing was completed by 105 students. Three open-ended questions elicited students' experiences, opinions, and recommendations.

Results: Students perceived that bashing of other specialties occurred during all clerkships; the most were perceived during the surgery clerkship, for which 87.5% reported such bashing. Specialties perceived as the object of bashing were family medicine (72%), general internal medicine (40%), psychiatry (39%), and general surgery (36%). Sixty-seven percent of students reported personally receiving non-constructive criticism about their preferred specialty. Seventy-nine percent believed bashing was unprofessional behavior. Strategies suggested by respondents to decrease bashing included increasing awareness, highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of medicine, and evaluating professionalism.

Conclusions: Medical students perceived bashing of medical specialties, recognized it as unprofessional behavior, and would be receptive to interventions to reduce bashing. Findings suggest a need to address bashing as part of professionalism curricula in medical training.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Clerkship
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Medicine*
  • New England
  • Prejudice*
  • Specialization*