Professional Identity Formation in Becoming a GP Trainer – Barriers and Enablers

McConville, Kevin (2021). Professional Identity Formation in Becoming a GP Trainer – Barriers and Enablers. EdD thesis The Open University.



This research concerns itself with the barriers and enablers contributing towards the professional identity formation of the General Practitioner (GP) as a GP trainer. My main research question was ‘What are the barriers and enablers that facilitate the PI formation of a General Practitioner becoming a GP trainer?’

I adopted a qualitative case study method within a constructionist, symbolic interactionist paradigm examining the professional identity formation of the GP trainer within one programme area of the Scottish Deanery. Data were collected in the form of (a) semi- structured interviews with 16 GP trainers and (b) regulatory and policy documents. Thematic analysis was applied whilst I maintained a reflexive stance as a previous GP trainer.

My findings indicate GPs become a GP trainer through experiences and events transitioning across three predominant identities: ‘Becoming a Doctor, ‘Becoming a GP’ and ‘Becoming a GP Trainer.’ Impediment at any of these stages can act as a barrier.

Policy promotes medical students and doctors becoming GPs, thus GP trainers require recruitment and retention. The GP trainer role suggests tendencies for clinicians to be understated in reports of their achievements and abilities. The GP trainer dually enacts and role models that of clinician and teacher; time acts as a significant barrier regarding both. The current Scottish Prospective Educational Supervisor Course, or previous iterations, is a significant enabler. GP trainer associations with Out of Hours services have changed over time. GP trainer / trainee relationships are essential enablers to a continued GP trainer professional identity.

My findings recommend the role of the GP trainer as a teacher needs highlighting. Processes that protect and maximise this role may enhance the positive contributions of being a teacher. Understanding these themes might enhance recruitment and retention of GP trainers. Future research regarding the Scottish Prospective Educational Supervisor Course and GP Out of Hours arrangements are recommended.

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