Student and clinician identities: how are identities constructed in interprofessional narratives?

Charlotte E Rees, Fiona Kent, Paul E S Crampton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


CONTEXT: Although the literature on professional identity formation in medical education is increasing, it is scant by comparison on student and clinician identities within interprofessional contexts. We therefore adopt a novel discursive approach to identities to explore how soon-to-become graduates and workplace-based clinicians construct their own and others' identities in interprofessional student-clinician (IPSC) interaction narratives.

METHODS: We conducted a qualitative narrative interview study with 38 students and 23 clinicians representing the fields of medicine, midwifery, nursing, occupational therapy, paramedicine and physiotherapy. Through framework analysis, we identified the breadth of student and clinician identity constructions across 208 IPSC interaction narratives, and explored how common constructions differed by narrative and narrator. Through in-depth positioning analysis, we explored how student and clinician identities are discursively positioned within two selected IPSC interaction narratives.

RESULTS: We identified 11 common constructions of student identities and eight common constructions of clinician identities across all 208 narratives. We found differences in identity constructions across positively versus negatively evaluated narratives, and student versus clinician narrators, highlighting the rhetorical nature of narratives. Our in-depth positioning analysis of two narratives illustrates how one student and one clinician discursively positioned theirs and others' identities during interprofessional interactions, and how identities vary depending on narrators' evaluations of their stories. Although both positioning analyses illustrate how the narrators' language serves to reproduce the common societal discourse of interprofessional conflict, the clinician narrative also draws on the competing discourse of interprofessional collaboration.

CONCLUSIONS: Although some of the identities support previous uniprofessional research, our findings illustrate greater breadth and depth in terms of student and clinician identities within interprofessional contexts. We encourage educators to embed identities curricula into existing workplace learning for students and clinicians to help them make sense of their developing professional and interprofessional identities. Workplace educators should facilitate meaningful IPSC interactions to promote interprofessional learning and collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalMedical Education
Early online date15 May 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2019

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© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and The Association for the Study of Medical Education. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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