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Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2015 Nov;53(9):864-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2015.07.018. Epub 2015 Sep 6.

Development of professional identity during early training in oral and maxillofacial surgery: a qualitative study.

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St George's Hospital, Blackshaw Road, Tooting, London, SW17 0QT. Electronic address:


Development of professional identity is becoming increasingly important in medical education, and has been found to be beneficial in a surgeon's training. However, despite the complex, demanding nature of early training in oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS), we know of little research on how it develops during this time. We therefore used qualitative research methodology based on a grounded theory approach to investigate how trainees gain a sense of identity as they progress through their 2 undergraduate degrees. Data from in-depth, semi-structured interviews with OMFS specialist trainees were transcribed and coded to allow for thematic analysis and subsequent theory construction. We propose a model of how professional identity develops in early OMFS training. Of note, professional experience gained during the second degree was found to be of great importance in the development of a strong professional identity. We look at reasons for this in terms of "cognitive space" and use the concept to discuss potential improvements to the training pathway.


Professional identity; Surgical education; Training

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