Power, Preparedness And Professional Transition
: How Students Are Helped Or Hindered In The Adoption Of Their New Role As Doctors

  • Francesca Hall

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Stories feature everywhere in daily life and in the lives of doctors. The importance of daily life and storytelling are woven throughout this thesis.

This study is a narrative interview and participant observation study. It aims to answer research questions about preparedness of UK medical students for practice, and medical school curriculum design. The research questions are:
1. What is “preparedness” in professional role transition from medical student to doctor?
2. What is the process of curriculum development in our institution?
3. Who holds power in our institution and beyond when it comes to curriculum development?
Medical students in the UK have long been described as unprepared for the transition to working life. Much of the published literature conceptualises preparedness as a set of skills and behaviours with little discussion of the identity of those making the transition. There is a gap in the medical education literature in discussing how curricula, specifically curricula focussing upon preparing for practice, are developed and brought to existence within medical schools.

This research is grounded in standpoint epistemology, which argues for the importance of women’s daily lives as a starting point for research. Methodologically, I employed both narrative interviews and participant observation. I conducted narrative interviews with five junior doctors and five members of medical school staff. The aim was to hear participant stories in response to a single question to induce narrative (SQIN) (Wengraff, 2001) regarding preparedness or curriculum development. I conducted participant observation of curriculum development meetings which aimed to inform purposive sampling and provided context for narrative interview data. I analysed interview data using thematic narrative analysis (Riessman, 2008) and core story creation. (Emden, 1998)
Feminist scholars such as hooks (1998) and Ahmed (2019, 2021) heavily informed my analysis. The results constructed represent preparedness as a set of permissions which can be offered to new graduates. Crucially, this research contributes that students and new graduates must be known to be prepared. Implications for practice focus upon creating opportunities for relationships to form and explicit permission to act at transition.

Regarding curriculum development within the medical school institution, this research newly emphasises the unseen work of women throughout the organisation in bringing curriculum plans to reality. Recommendations to medical school faculty focus upon seeking to understand and appreciate the unseen work performed within the institution, or risk staff departure as an act of resistance.
Date of AwardJun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorMuna Al-Jawad (Supervisor) & Juliet Wright (Supervisor)

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