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Tensions in integrating clinician and educator role identities: a qualitative study with occupational therapists and physiotherapists
  1. Sik Yin Ong1,
  2. Mary Lee1,
  3. Lee Sian Lee2,
  4. Issac Lim1,
  5. Kum Ying Tham3
  1. 1 HOMER (Health Outcomes and Medical Education Research), Group Education, National Healthcare Group, Singapore, Singapore
  2. 2 Occupational Therapy, Institute of Mental Health, Singapore, Singapore
  3. 3 Emergency, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore, Singapore
  1. Correspondence to Ms Sik Yin Ong; sik_yin_ong{at}nhg.com.sg

Abstract

Objective Clinician educators (CEs) frequently report tensions in their professional identities as clinicians and educators, although some perceive a reciprocal relationship between clinical and teaching roles. However, it is unknown if the shared meanings of clinicians’ multiple job roles translate to identity verification. We sought to examine CEs’ perceptions of their clinician and educator roles and the influence of their perceptions on the salience of their professional identities.

Design Qualitative individual interviews and focus groups, analysed using framework analytic approach.

Setting and participants 23 occupational therapy (OT) and 16 physiotherapy (PT) educators from two acute hospitals and one rehabilitation unit in Singapore.

Results PT and OT CEs constructed shared meanings of their clinician and educator roles through overcoming feelings of unease and inadequacy, discovering commonalities and establishing relevance. However, shared meanings between clinician and educator roles might not necessarily lead to mutual verification of their professional identities. Individuals’ cognitive flexibility and openness to additional roles, and organisations’ expectations had a mediating effect on the identity integration process. Less experienced CEs reported feelings of distress juggling the competing demands of both clinician and educator roles, whereas more experienced CEs appeared to be more capable of prioritising their job roles in different situations, which could be a result of differences in adaptation to frequent interruptions in clinical setting. Emphasis on patient statistics could result in failure in achieving identity verification, leading to feelings of distress.

Conclusion Faculty developers should take into consideration the episodic nature of the educator identity construction process and develop induction programmes to assist CEs in building integrated identities.

  • qualitative research
  • identity
  • focus group
  • interview

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Footnotes

  • Contributors SYO is a research analyst in HOMER (Health Outcomes and Medical Education Research), National Healthcare Group, Singapore. She was involved in study conceptualisation, study design, data collection and analysis, and led in writing the manuscript. ML is a principal research analyst in HOMER, National Healthcare Group, Singapore. She was involved in study design, data collection and analysis, and editing of the manuscript. LSL is a clinical educator lead and senior occupational therapist in the Institute of Mental Health, Singapore. She was involved in data collection and analysis, and editing of the manuscript. IL is the Head of HOMER, National Healthcare Group, Singapore. He was involved in study conceptualisation, study design and editing of the manuscript. KYT is an emergency senior consultant in Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Assistant Dean in Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She was involved in study conceptualisation and editing of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Research ethics approval was obtained from the Institutional Review Board of the National Healthcare Group Domain Specific Review Board (NHG DSRB reference number: 2015/00483).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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