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Int J Med Educ. 2019 Jun 14;10:113-121. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5cf7.d60c.

Authenticity made visible in medical students' experiences of feeling like a doctor.

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Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics (LIME), Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
Karolinska University Hospital, Department of Infectious Diseases, Sweden.
School of Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden.



To interpret the phenomenon of authenticity made visible in medical students' experiences of feeling like a doctor, i.e., how authenticity took shape in narratives about feeling like a doctor in clinical situations where students were challenged to be independent and to a high degree make choices and clinical decisions.


The conducted research was positioned within phenomenological hermeneutic research tradition, interpreting participants' experiences in a life-world perspective using narrative inquiry. Fifteen medical students in their fifth year were interviewed focusing on clinical situations. An abductive analysis approach was used to discover patterns and to interpret data following a phenomenological hermeneutic research method for textual interpretation.


The analysis resulted in a thematic structure of findings: Opportunity to experience authenticity through creating relationships; Opportunity to experience authenticity through responsibility; Opportunity to experience authenticity through independence, managing wholeness, and follow-up processes; Opportunity to experience authenticity through being able to reason and discern. Overarching the four themes was the perceived need for attachment, i.e. attachment to patients, to supervisors, to the workplace, to the situation and reasoning and knowledge.


Essential for the experience of feeling like a doctor was authentic situations that resulted in the experienced members of a community of practice and the perceived development of a professional identity. These findings can advance the understanding of how clinical education should be organized to facilitate professional identity development.


authenticity; autonomy; communities of practice; medical education; professional development; professional identity

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