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Transition theory and the emotional journey to medical educator identity: a qualitative interview study

Browne, Julie ORCID: and Collett, Tracey 2023. Transition theory and the emotional journey to medical educator identity: a qualitative interview study. Medical Education 57 (7) , pp. 648-657. 10.1111/medu.15094

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Background Medical academia is in crisis, with fewer people entering and growing concern at numbers leaving. While faculty development is often seen as part of the solution, there are significant issues with faculty not engaging with and resisting development opportunities. Lack of motivation may be linked to what might be called a ‘weak’ educator identity. We studied medical educators’ experiences of career development to gain further insights into how professional identity may develop; individuals’ accompanying emotional responses to perceived identity change, and consideration of the accompanying temporal dimensions. Drawing on new materialist sociology we explore medical educator identity formation in terms of an affective flow that places the individual within a constantly shifting assemblage of psychological, emotional and social relations. Method We interviewed 20 medical educators at various career stages, with differing strengths of medical educator self-identity. Using an adapted transition model as a basis for understanding the emotions experienced by those undergoing identity transitions, we explore the process that, for some medical educators, appears to lead to decreased motivation, ambiguous identity and disengagement, but for others results in renewed energy, a stronger and more stable professional identity and increased interest and engagement. Results By more effectively illustrating the emotional impact of the transition process leading to a more stable educator identity we show that some individuals, especially where the change was not sought or welcomed, express their uncertainty and distress through low mood, resistance and an attempt to minimize the significance of undertaking or increasing teaching duties. Discussion Understanding the emotional and developmental phases of the transition to medical educator identity has several key implications for faculty development. Faculty development approaches should be alert to the individual educator’s stage of transition since this will affect that individual’s readiness to accept and respond to guidance, information and support. A renewed emphasis on early educational approaches that will support the transformational and reflective learning of the individual is needed, while traditional approaches emphasising skills and knowledge may be more useful in the later stages. Further testing of the transition model and its applicability to identity development in medical education is indicated.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Cardiff Unit for Research and Evaluation in Medical and Dental Education (CUREMeDE)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0308-0110
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 April 2023
Date of Acceptance: 3 March 2023
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2023 01:19

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