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Exploring concepts of professionalism in medical education and in medicine

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J Parry
    Dr D Ward
    Dr Miranda Pallan
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

Applications are invited for a 3-year fully-funded PhD Studentship starting date to be discussed.

The PhD will be based at the College of Medical and Dental Sciences. The studentship will focus on developing original and novel research into what professionalism is in general, and how it is thought of in UK undergraduate medical education and in the profession more widely. The impetus for this question in part due to the recent GMC report Outcomes for Graduates which categorises the desired educational outcomes for medical graduates into Professional Values and Behaviour, Professional Skills and Professional Knowledge.

Key Aims
We are not prescriptive as to the specific line of enquiry to be followed, but would encourage engagement with at least two of the following themes.

(1) Pedagogy and Institutions: What is ‘professionalism’ in the medical profession in the UK, and how it is described in UK medical schools, and professional bodies (for example, GMC, BMA, Royal Colleges). Where are the points of alignment and of tension between concepts and definitions? What pedagogical techniques are employed to develop professionalism in medical students and graduates; what is the evidence underpinning their use?

(2) Ethics and the Future: In this theme there is the opportunity to develop a wider concept of professionalism and to explore how it relates to ethical conduct in the public domain, in general. This in turn relates to ideas of privacy and autonomy for the individual medical practitioner and their capacity to be professional or non-professional when off duty. How does the medical conception of professionalism relate to that in other fields? Where might the professional be in the next 20-30 years and what challenges may this bring to the medical student about to enter practice?

(3) Politics and Society: Many junior doctors feel let down by medicine as a career and this seems to have been exacerbated by the recent BMA industrial action. There is increased monitoring of practice coupled with an intense and stressful job often leading to poor health and personal outcomes for the doctor. However, in the past, this has been in part mitigated by the perceived benefits of being a member of the profession – for example, status, income, autonomy. With these benefits arguably having been reduced, is there a need to examine the current social contract between the medical graduate and professional and society at large?

Research Methods
The methodological approach and associated data collection methods will be determined by the student and shaped by the chosen line of enquiry. We would encourage consideration of a mixed methods approach and anticipate that most the following activities may usefully be deployed:

1. Review of the literature and analysis of policy documents.
2. Interrogation of undergraduate medical degree programme curricula content and learning outcomes
3. Primary data collection (e.g. questionnaire-based survey, interviews, focus groups) from key stakeholders including undergraduate medical students, medical school staff, qualified doctors, patients and members of the public.

Person Specification
Applicants should have a strong interest in healthcare, higher education and the education and training of healthcare professionals, and the relationship between professions and society. Applicants must have some appreciation of reviewing literature, and of survey and interview research methods. They should hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a relevant subject

How to apply
Applications should be directed to Professor Jayne Parry at [Email Address Removed]. To apply, please send:
• A Detailed CV, including your nationality and country of birth;
• Names and addresses of two referees;
• A covering letter highlighting your research experience/capabilities and why you are interested in this project;
• Copies of your degree transcripts;
• Evidence of your proficiency in the English language, if applicable.

Applicants will be required to attend an interview. This can be conducted face –to –face, by telephone or skype

Funding Notes

PhD Studentship (RCUK Rate) for three years including fees (Home/EU), and appropriate research consumables.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.70

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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