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A scoping review and theory-informed conceptual model of professional identity formation in medical education.

Medical Education 2024 April 11
INTRODUCTION: Professional identity formation (PIF) is a central tenet of effective medical education. However, efforts to support, assess and study PIF are hindered by unclear definitions and conceptualisations of what it means to 'think, act, and feel like a physician'. Gaps in understanding PIF, and by extension, its support mechanisms, can predispose individuals towards disengaged or unprofessional conduct and institutions towards short-sighted or reactionary responses to systemic issues.

METHODS: A Systematic Evidence-Based Approach-guided systematic scoping review of PIF theories was conducted related to medical students, trainees and practising doctors, published between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2021 in PubMed, Embase, ERIC and Scopus databases.

RESULTS: A total of 2441 abstracts were reviewed, 607 full-text articles evaluated and 204 articles included. The domains identified were understanding PIF through the lens of pivotal theories and characterising PIF by delineating the underlying factors that influence it and processes that define it.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on regnant theories and frameworks related to self-concepts of identity and personhood, the relationships between key PIF influences, processes and outcomes were examined. A theory-backed integrated conceptual model was proposed to delineate the interconnected relationships among these, aiming to untangle some of the complexities inherent to PIF, to shed light on existing practices and to identify shortcomings in our understanding so as to develop mechanisms in support of its multifaceted, interlinked components.

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