The loss of idealism throughout internship

Charles H. Griffith, John F. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The purpose of this project was to understand how resident attitudes to specific types of patients change throughout their internship. Over a 3-year period all 1st-year internal medicine residents were asked to complete a 15-item survey regarding their attitudes toward certain patient types and the profession. The survey was administered the 1st day of the internship, again in mid-November, and in June in the last month of internship. Sixty-one of 80 interns (76% response) completed all three administrations of the survey. In general, there were statistically significant differences in attitudes from the first administration to the second in all categories (all changes reflecting less idealism), with attitudes remaining the same for the second to third administration. For example, interns believed significantly more patients requesting narcotics were drug seekers (19% vs. 33%/37%, p < .0001) and a lesser percentage of the elderly could care for themselves independently (62% vs. 50%/48%, p < .0001). We conclude interns become less idealistic toward patients and the profession throughout internship, with the greatest change within the first 5 months.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-426
Number of pages12
JournalEvaluation and the Health Professions
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Attitudes
  • Doctor-patient relationship
  • Internship and residency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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