The Professionalization of Medical Students : a Longitudinal analysis of Professional Identity Formation and Professionalism Perceptions in Second and Third Year Medical Students

Jessica Byram
Submitted: November, 2017

This study employed a longitudinal approach to professional identity formation(PIF) that explored the processes through which professional identity is formed in 9 second (MS2) and third (MS3) year medical students at Indiana University School of Medicine and how their perceptions of professionalism transformed and influenced their PIF. Participants completed three semi-structured interviews and submitted 10 audio diaries at two-month intervals between interviews. Participants also completed the Professionalism Assessment Tool (PAT) at the beginning of MS2 (PAT1) and end of MS3 (PAT2). This study found several processes of PIF within five themes: Exploring Self in Medicine, Connecting to Image of Medicine, Embodying Role, Internalizing Values, and Exploring Specialty Choice. Processes of participating in patient care and selecting a specialty have the most profound impact on PIF and resulted in medical students feeling like members of the medical community. Analyses revealed participants’ perceptions of professionalism became more complex with clinical experiences and their perceptions of their ability to enact those behaviors transformed across the study period. Furthermore, the participants’ perceptions of professionalism set the foundation for the values they desired to demonstrate as part of their professional identities. These results indicate PIF is best cultivated within a medical curriculum where students are able to utilize processes to foster its development.

  • Medical Teaching