AMEE Symposium: Researching identities in medical education

Divergence & convergence across theoretical & analytical perspectives

Ken Mavor was part of an international team presenting at AMEE in Glasgow.  The symposium represented a wide range of research approaches looking at identities in medical education.  The presenters included:

  • Lynn Monrouxe (Chang Gung Medical Education Research Centre, CGMH, Linkou, Taiwan);
  • Rola Ajjawi (Centre for Medical Education, University of Dundee, UK);
  • Esther Helmich (Center for Evidence-Based Education, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands);
  • Ken Mavor (School of Psychology & Neuroscience, University of St Andrews, UK & ANU Medical School, Australia);
  • Charlotte Rees (Centre for Medical Education, University of Dundee, UK);
  • Sally Warmington (School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia)

The talks presented research work involving social identity theory, self-complexity approaches, phenomenology, post-structural narrative approaches, and social constructionism.

All of these approaches share an understanding of the self as being fundamentally tied to the “social”: that identity is not just about an individual person but that personal identity is only part of the self.  Each of the theoretical approaches involves different methods to examine the role of the social but they all share that conviction.

This is particularly important in medical education because it is partly an individual calling, but also a social institution, an internationally recognised identity, a profession based on largely common trading the world over, studied in often close-knit cohorts. It has strong inter-professional connections and conflicts, and tightly controlled specialties with unique challenges and rewards.  Many of these things make medicine and medical education intensely social and the formation of becoming a doctor also a social project.

These themes importantly are crucial to the focus of this research endeavour – to explore the many social processes that underpin “becoming” in the medical context, and how the social can be essential to discussion about resilience and well-being.