Formation of Professional Identity in Student Doctors and Dentists
Dr Pirashanthie Vivekananda-Schmidt (Medical School)
What is this about?
Recently, several authors have called for a better understanding of the processes by which healthcare students develop their professional self identities (PSI). Here, we report a model of PSI formation in healthcare students using a grounded approach.
Through analysis of interview data from 17 student doctors and dentists who had indicated substantial changes in their PSI, we developed a theoretical model. Two overlapping frames of reference affect PSI formation: the students’ self-perception and their perception of the professional role; both are ‘learnt’; neither is static. Through participation in the profession, students learn by trying out their competencies in the real world and finding out to what extent they work, and by trying to visualise themselves in the role. When others acknowledge students as quasi-professionals students experience transference and may respond with counter-transference to meet expectations. They may also dry-run their professional role in safe settings.
How will colleagues benefit?
It is now recognised that supporting students in their development of professional identity is an inherent part of supporting their developing professionalism. The presentation will outline the relationship between professionalism and professional identity. It will capture recent discourse in the professional identity development process in healthcare students. It will provide participants with a theoretical model of professional identity that was derived through data collected from a purposive sample of student doctors and dentists. We will explore the implications of this model to curricular development; and especially to the professionalism curricula.