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Intra- and interprofessional practices through fresh eyes: a qualitative analysis of medical students' early workplace experiences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalBmc Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2019

King's Authors


BACKGROUND: Professional identities are influenced by experiences in the clinical workplace including socialisation processes that may be hidden from academic faculty and potentially divergent from formal curricula. With the current educational emphasis on complexity, preparedness for practice, patient safety and team-working it is necessary to evaluate and respond to what students are learning about collaborative practices during their clinical placements. METHODS: 394 second year medical students at a London medical school were invited to submit a short formative essay as part of their coursework describing, evaluating and reflecting on their experiences of how healthcare professionals work together. Their experiences were derived from having spent two days each week for 25 weeks in clinical contexts across primary and secondary care. We consented 311 participants and used a Consensual Qualitative Research approach to analyse these essays, creating a 'students-eye view' of intra- and interprofessional practices in the workplace. RESULTS: We identified four overarching themes in students' essays:Theme 1: analyses of contextual factors driving team tensions including staff shortages, shifting teams, and infrastructural issues;Theme 2: observations of hierarchical and paternalistic attitudes and behaviours;Theme 3: respect for team members' ability to manage and mitigate tensions and attitudes; andTheme 4: take-forward learning including enthusiasm for quality improvement and system change. CONCLUSIONS: Students are being socialised into a complex, hierarchical, pressurised clinical workplace and experience wide variations in professional behaviours and practices. They articulate a need to find constructive ways forward in the interests of staff wellbeing and patient care. We present educational recommendations including providing safe reflective spaces, using students' lived experience as raw material for systems thinking and quality improvement, and closing the feedback loop with placement sites on behalf of students.

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