Becoming a clinical teacher; identity formation in context: A scoping review

Peter Cantillon, Tim Dornan, Willem De Grave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)
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Most clinical teachers have not been trained to teach and faculty development for clinical educators is undermined by poor attendance, inadequate knowledge transfer, and unsustainability. A crucial question for faculty developers to consider is how clinicians become teachers in the absence of formal training. Such knowledge is likely to be immensely important in the design of future faculty development initiatives. We therefore carried out a scoping review of what is known about the relationship between becoming a clinical teacher and the clinical environments that teachers work in.

Using the scoping review design described by Levac 2010, we searched twelve bibliographic and doctoral thesis databases. We subjected the dataset to four phases of screening using iteratively developed inclusion/exclusion criteria. We charted the final dataset and used thematic analysis to synthesise findings.

Thirty-four research reports met the inclusion criteria. Most took an individualist stance towards identity, focusing on how teachers individually construct their teacher identity in tension with their clinician identities. . Only 10/34 studies conceptualised clinical teacher identity formation as a social relational phenomenon, negotiated within hierarchical social structures. Most of the included studies made little or no use of explicit theoretical frameworks which limited their rigour and transferability.

Clinicians reconciled their identities as teachers with their identities as clinicians by juggling the two, finding mutuality between them, or forging merged identities that minimised tensions between educational and clinical roles. They did so in hierarchical social settings, where patient care and research were prioritised above teaching.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademic Medicine
Early online date14 Aug 2018
Publication statusEarly online date - 14 Aug 2018


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