A narrative analysis of clerkship reflections: Medical student identity development in a changing world

Link to article at PubMed

Clin Teach. 2023 Sep 11:e13652. doi: 10.1111/tct.13652. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Medical students' written reflections on their clinical experiences can be a useful tool for processing complex aspects of development as physicians. To create educational programs that scaffold adaptive professional identity development, it is essential to understand how medical students develop as professionals and process the dynamic sociocultural experiences of the current moment.

OBJECTIVE: To explore the developing professional consciousness of medical students through clerkship reflections.

DESIGN: Narrative analysis of written reflections are produced by clerkship students, who were asked to tell a story that resonated with the physician's relationship with patient, self and colleagues. Two independent readers applied inductive labels to generate a homogenous codebook, which was used to generate themes that were then used to construct a conceptual model.

KEY RESULTS: Four themes were identified in the data that describe relationships between medical students' developing professional identities and the norms of their future professional and personal communities. These included: medical students as outsiders, conflict between the student identifying with the patient versus the healthcare team, medical students' own value judgements and, finally, the changing societal mores as they relate to social and racial injustice. The conceptual model for this experience depicts the medical student as pulled between patients and the social context on one side and the professional context of the medical centre on the other. Students long to move towards identification with the healthcare team, but reject the extremes of medical culture that they view on conflict with social and racial justice.

CONCLUSIONS: Medical students in clinical training identify strongly with both patients and the medical team. Rather than viewing professional identity development as a longitudinal journey from one extreme to another, students have the power to call attention to entrenched problems within medical culture and increase empathy for patients by retaining their strong identification with the important issues of this time.

PMID:37694819 | DOI:10.1111/tct.13652

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