Becoming a physician for older patients: exploring the professional identity formation of medical students during a nursing home clerkship. A qualitative study

Annemarie Moll-Jongerius*, Kirsten Langeveld, Esther Helmich, Tahir Masud, Anneke W.M. Kramer, Wilco P. Achterberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: To prepare medical students for the growing population of older patients, an appropriate professional identity formation is desirable. The community of practice of medical school is primarily hospital-based and disease-oriented which will lead to the development of a physician who is mainly focused on cure. This focus alone however is not always appropriate for older persons’ health care. The aim of this study is to explore the influence of participating in a nursing home community of practice on the professional identity formation of medical students. Methods: A qualitative study based on a constructivist research paradigm was conducted, using individual semi-structured, in-depth interviews and a visual narrative method (drawing) as a prompt. Thematic analysis was applied to structure and interpret the data. The study population consisted of fifth-year medical students participating in a six-week nursing home clerkship. Thirteen participants were purposefully sampled. The clerkship took place in nursing homes in the South-West of the Netherlands. Results: The medical students described the nursing home as the living environment of the patients. Actively participating in the patients’ care and experiencing the daily life of the patients was meaningful for the physician the students want to become in five ways: (1) a physician with a complete picture; (2) a physician who is close; (3) a physician who is in dialogue; (4) a physician who is able to let go and (5) a physican who collaborates. Conclusions: Caring for older patients in the nursing home influences the professional identity formation of medical students. Patient-centeredness, personal, holistic and tailored care, approachability and collaboration are important characteristics in becoming a physician for older persons’ health care. The context of this care provides relevant learning experiences for this development and the becoming of a physician in general.

Original languageEnglish
Article number845
JournalBMC Medical Education
Volume23
Number of pages9
ISSN1472-6920
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7. Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Clerkship
  • Community of practice
  • Medical students
  • Nursing home
  • Older persons
  • Professional identity formation
  • Nursing Homes
  • Students, Nursing
  • Physicians
  • Humans
  • Students, Medical
  • Social Identification
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aged
  • Qualitative Research

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