Career choice in medicine

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Bennett, Deirdre
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University College Cork
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Background: Career Choice in Medicine is an important and problematic topic. Medical education has been framed as professional identity development, yet career choice has not been viewed as a matter of identity. My primary aim was to offer new insights by exploring career choice using Figured Worlds theory, a socio-cultural theory of identity. Graduate retention is a challenge for many countries, including Ireland. My secondary aim was to address a gap in the data on postgraduate trainees in Ireland and to use the Irish case to illustrate points transferable to other contexts. Methodology & Methods: This was a predominantly qualitative Mixed Methods programme of research. My qualitative studies were oriented towards social constructionism. I collated existing data from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) and HSE-MET to describe trainees and their career paths. I surveyed Basic Specialist Training trainees (n=333) about their career plans. I surveyed new trainees (n=527) about their expectations of training and all RCPI trainees about their experiences of training (n=1246). I conducted semi-structured interviews with 18 medical students and doctors. A subgroup (n=6) provided longitudinal data. Figured Worlds theory and Gee’s discourse tools were used for analysis. Results: I have used the case of medical training and career choice in Ireland to explain how social, political and cultural context, and day to day experiences in the cultural world of medicine, shaped doctors’ career choices. My qualitative findings described a unifying model of career choice, consisting of priming, exposure, positioning and open-endedness, which can guide the design of interventions to shape and support career choice. Conclusion: My original contribution has been to demonstrate the fruitfulness of framing career choice in terms of identity development. This represents a turn in the conversation about career choice, which brings new starting points and moves the dialogue forward.
Career choice , Professional identity , Discourse analysis , Dutch Residency Educational Climate Test , Medical education , Figured worlds , D-RECT
Bennett Deirdre. 2015. Career choice in medicine. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.