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Background: Mental illnesses are a major public health problem around the world and the prevalence and burden of common mental disorders is growing, especially in Nigeria with a long-standing history of economic instability and security challenges. The psychiatry clerkship can play an important role in influencing students' attitudes towards psychiatry, either positively or negatively. The experience gathered by students during the posting, as a result of input from psychiatric doctors (consultants and trainee psychiatrists), other mental health practitioners, and the patients themselves contributes to the acquired benefits.
Objective: This study aimed to assess the overall perception of a two-week psychiatry clerkship by students at a Nigerian university.
Methods: One hundred and nineteen fifth year medical students were interviewed after their Mental Health posting and administered a structured survey questionnaire.
Results: A majority of the students found the posting interesting but only 28.6% expressed an interest in psychiatry for future specialization. Two main problems with the psychiatry rotation were mentioned: concurrent classroom lectures and the timing – immediately prior to comprehensive examinations in 4th MBBS subjects.
Conclusion: Because of the increasing global burden of mental disorders, an undergraduate medical students’ clerkship of adequate length in psychiatry is a sine qua non for all medical practitioners.