Becoming a medical educator
: Understanding a complex professional identity 

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In the last 10-15 years there has been a significant increase in the number of medical doctors completing Master’s level qualifications in education. This Research Based Thesis (RBT) aims to explore the professional identity development of these individuals who work across the differing communities of practices (Wenger, 1998) of medicine and education. This thesis explores the diverse nature of both the medical and educational practices that these participants engage in and how this impacts on their identities as medical educators. In particular, it aims to explore the similarities and differences between different groups of medics in how they develop their medical educator identity including how participants from different specialities broker their identity between different communities of practice. Some of the key factors that are influential in the shaping of professional identity of medical educators are thereby explored. In particular, gender is used as a lens through which to explore issues of power and hierarchy that may impact on identity development.
Drawing upon a social constructivist approach, 15 semi structured interviews were conducted with clinically qualified medical educators all of whom had completed, or nearly completed, a Master’s in Education (MEd). The interviews were audio recorded and transcribed prior to being thematically analysed (Corbin and Straus, 2015). An orientation exercise was also undertaken in which medical Royal College websites and education articles within medical journals were analysed to better understand the values and assumptions about education that were presented within a small selection of medical specialties.
The key findings focused around the diversity of education activities that participants engaged with including how these activities were viewed by others as both low and high status. Participants often experienced tensions in brokering between education and medicine communities, and these tensions ranged in type and complexity given differences between and within these communities. Some factors that impacted on participants’ medical educator identity included how integrated their education and medicine roles were, completion of their MEd qualification and how this was viewed by others, the amount of identity capital they held, and issues around gender.
This research shows how developing a professional identity as a medical educator is complex and challenging.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorAlan Cribb (Supervisor) & Sara Donetto (Supervisor)

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