The development and evaluation of a Professional Self Identity Questionnaire to measure evolving professional self-identity in health and social care students

Med Teach. 2009 Dec;31(12):e603-7. doi: 10.3109/01421590903193547.


Background: Professional self-identity is a 'state of mind' -- identifying one's-self as a member of a professional group. Delayed professional self-identity is a barrier to successful transition from student to professional. Current trends in medical education limit student doctors' legitimate peripheral participation and may retard their developing professional self-identity compared with other health and social care students.

Aims: Develop a tool to monitor the development of professional self-identity to operate across the different health and social care professions and evaluate the tool with student doctors before wider data collection.

Method: Content analysis of relevant curricula, mapped to professional standards documents, defined initial content. Field tests across 10 professional groups refined questionnaire items. A cross-sectional study on 496 student doctors evaluated validity on the basis of internal structure and relationships with external variables.

Results: The 9-item questionnaire indicates a three-factor structure reflecting 'interpersonal tasks', 'generic attributes' and 'profession-specific elements'. Students with greater previous experience of health or social care roles, and students with a more positive attitude to qualification had significantly more advanced scores than their peers. Scores advanced through the curriculum showing step changes after the start of clinical attachments.

Conclusions: The data provides sufficient evidence of validity with student doctors to justify wider data collection.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Benchmarking
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Professional Competence
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Identification*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United Kingdom