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01-02-2015 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2015 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 1/2015

Who are we? A qualitative evaluation of trainees’ perspectives on professional identity in oral and maxillofacial surgery

Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 1/2015
Arpan Tahim
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Notes of Contributors:

Arpan Tahim is an oral and maxillofacial registrar at St George’s Hospital, London. He studied medicine at Imperial College London and dentistry at Kings College London.



Professional identity is becoming increasingly important in medical education in terms of developing appropriately trained and safely practising doctors. Oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) is a unique surgical speciality that requires dual qualification in medicine and dentistry. Its junior trainees move between the various roles of student, doctor and dentist, and at certain times these roles may overlap. This heterogeneous early training may raise significant barriers for them in terms of understanding their professional identity and developing their own sustainable sense of belonging. This study looks to understand current trainees’ perceptions of the professional identity of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.


A qualitative research methodology based on a grounded theory approach was used in this study. Data were collected using in-depth, semi-structured interviews with OMFS specialist trainees. Subsequent theories were constructed after thematic analysis.


A model of the professional identity of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is proposed.


This study represents the first attempt to understand professional identity in OMFS trainees. It will provide insight into what trainees understand by the term in this speciality, as well as outlining what trainees feel are important elements to develop a sense of belonging within the speciality.
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