Interprofessional education (IPE) should help to promote a team-based approach to professional practice but there are barriers to its implementation including professional identity. The aim of this study was to use a qualitative research methodology to explore dental and dental care professional (DCP) students' perceptions of professional roles and identities in the dental team. Data were collected by means of focus groups from a purposive sample of dental and DCP students and were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed using an explanatory framework. Five common themes emerged around the issue of professional roles and identity in the dental team. The results indicate that professional identity was an important factor in team development and was determined by direct responsibility for patient care and by the amount of clinical experience acquired. Professional identity within a team context was perceived as different from professional identity per se. Dental students were found to lack confidence in their role as team leaders which was related to their lack of knowledge of team roles, responsibilities and experience. The role of the dental technician was perceived as 'outside' the dental team due to lack of patient interaction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas