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.