Understanding the professional identity development of undergraduate osteopathic students in the UK
Subject Categories::B310 Osteopathy
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AbstractProfessional identity formation is a process that happens simultaneously at the level of the individual (which involves their internal cognitive development), at the interactive level (which involves socialisation through participation) and at the institutional level (which involves being subject to institutional processes). Having a well-developed professional identity is important, as it helps professionals to practise with confidence, provides a sense of belonging, aids normative behaviours and has been linked to better quality care. Whilst research has highlighted the factors that support professional identity development in other professions, there is limited understanding of the factors that student osteopaths use to construct their professional identity. The aim of this study was to construct a theory of how undergraduate osteopaths in the UK construct their professional identity and to determine whether undergraduate osteopathic students have conceptions of an osteopathic identity. A qualitative study was undertaken within a constructivist paradigm. A total of seven UK undergraduate osteopathic students were purposively sampled. Data was collected through all seven participants keeping a diary for one month. Following this, individual interviews were undertaken with all participants. Participant diaries acted both as data and as a reflective prompt for the individual interviews. Subsequent theoretical sampling informed the data analysis. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Towards the end of the study, one participant was selected for a second interview. A constructivist grounded theory approach was used to code and analyse the data and to construct the grounded theory of how undergraduate osteopathic students in the UK construct their professional identity. The data resulted in the construction of a theory that encompasses three interrelated levels. At the individual level, students held a conception of their future self as an osteopath, which they used to motivate themselves and measure their progress. They constructed this future self as an osteopath by the interactive process which became known as ‘Magpieing’. This involved the collection of identity contents from tutors, peers and documentation. Students then experimented with these identity contents with either patients or peers before making the decision to integrate the content, continue to experiment with it in other situations or discard it. This was underpinned by institutional level processes that constituted providing students with role models and mentors, clinical encounters and safe spaces where they could collect and experiment with identity contents. Students held a conception of an osteopathic identity base on three levels: ways of interacting with patients, professionalism, and knowledge and ways of using it. They associated most strongly with ways of interacting with patients and least strongly with knowledge and ways of using it. The findings indicate that undergraduate osteopathic students in the UK construct their professional identity on an individual, an interactional and an institutional level, and that these levels are interrelated. Undergraduate osteopathic students in the UK have a conception of the professional identity of osteopaths based on three levels, with which they strongly or weakly associated. These findings provide the first theory of how student osteopaths construct their professional identity.
CitationMcKenna, B. (2020) 'Understanding the professional identity development of undergraduate osteopathic students in the UK'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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