Striking a balance: investigating how situated learning promotes a balance between professional and personal roles for GPs in a demanding and complex healthcare environment

Project Details


Over the last decades, the role of GPs has expanded significantly due to a complex interplay of factors influencing healthcare, such as socio-economic
status, cultural diversity and healthcare access. Advances in medical technology and the needs of an aging population are contributing to this role
expansion. The evolving general practice landscape creates a challenge for GP training programs in helping trainees to overcome tensions between
professional identities and personal responsibilities. Recognizing this challenge, our project aims to investigate how educators can support future GPs in
building and maintaining a balance between professional and personal identities in a demanding and complex healthcare environment.
Our research will primarily focus on situated learning in general practice. We will explore perspectives, experiences and needs of stakeholders in GP
training in the formation of a new expanded professional identity. In our project, we use the case study of sustaining continuity of care (CoC), a core value
of general practice. The application of CoC in general practice is evolving due to changes in society and GPs’ personal and professional roles. By
cultivating a GP learning environment that encourages this evolution, we can empower future GPs to integrate their personal and professional identities.
Our project involves end-users: students, GP trainees, GPs and clinical and non-clinical GP educators. Using participatory research, we will collaborate
with those affected by the challenges of taking up professional roles within the healthcare system. By incorporating not only socialisation (growing into the
profession) but also subjectification (finding space to sound one’s unique voice within the profession) into the process of professional formation, our project
aims to investigate how individual trainees navigate their personal and professional roles within the GP community of practice. This information will inform
the rationale and quality of GP training curricula in aligning with learning needs of future GPs and developments in GP care.
To ensure impact, our project involves collaboration with researchers, educators, and policymakers. By fostering sustainable connections, we can
maximise input and impact on research, education, practice, and policy in the field. Aligned with the national research agenda of Dutch GP training
institutes, our project addresses areas ‘3’ (the specific professional identity of GPs) and ‘5’ (lifelong learning and its conceptual foundation). We aim to
generate new insights for learning and teaching in general practice, which may also benefit other areas of health professions education. Ultimately, our
research will improve GP training methods, while also contributing to the international body of knowledge for lifelong learning of GPs. The project's quality
is ensured as it uses sound theoretical designs, experienced researchers, strong inter-institutional collaboration, and expertise from the researchers’
national and international networks. The relevance lies in addressing emerging educational approaches in response to societal developments, focusing on
incorporating stakeholders’ opinions and experiences.
Our research project consists of seven studies that aim to explore the formation of an expanded professional identity among (future) GPs. The project is
divided into three interrelated phases. Phase 1 includes the formation of a theoretical framework (conceptualisation), phase 2 includes developing a
theoretical model in a naturalistic setting (exploration), and in phase 3 we will bring theory to educational practice in formulating design principles for
education and assessment (consolidation). By conducting this project, guided by an interdisciplinary advisory team, we aim to generate new knowledge,
improve GP training practices for lifelong learning and make meaningful contributions to research, education, policy and practice in the field of health care.

Layman's description

The increasing complexity of healthcare requires a new expanded professional identity for GPs. They need to possess the knowledge and skills to improve
patient and population health and also contribute to the professional community of general practice. However, this can create tensions between their
professional and personal identities, which can affect patient care and important professional values such as continuity of care. Future physicians must
find a balance between their personal and professional identities. This project uses participatory research methods involving GP trainees, GPs, and GP
educators to identify issues and collaboratively create solutions. By defining a new expanded professional identity for GPs and investigating factors that
hinder or facilitate its formation, educators can support future GPs in finding this balance.
Short titleStriking a balance:
Effective start/end date1/06/20241/06/2030