Integrating the teaching role into one's identity: A qualitative study of beginning undergraduate medical teachers

T.A.M. van Lankveld, J.I. Schoonenboom, R.A. Kusurkar, Monique Volman, J. Beishuizen, G. Croiset

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Beginning medical teachers often see themselves as doctors or researchers rather than as teachers. Using both figured worlds theory and dialogical self theory, this study explores how beginning teachers in the field of undergraduate medical education integrate the teacher role into their identity. A qualitative study was performed, involving 18 beginning medical teachers at a Dutch medical school. The teachers were interviewed twice and kept a logbook over a period of 7 months. The study shows that the integration of the teacher role into the teachers’ identity was hampered by the idea that teaching is perceived by others as a low status occupation. Some teachers experienced significant tension because of this, while others showed resilience in resisting the negative associations that were thought to exist regarding teaching. The teachers used five different identity narratives in order to integrate the teacher role into their identity, in which the positions of teacher and doctor or researcher were found to be combined, adopted or rejected in diverse ways. The five identity narratives were: (1) coalition between the I-position of teacher and other I-positions; (2) no integration of the I-position of teacher: holding on to other I-positions; (3) construction of the I-position of teacher and other I-positions as opposites; (4) coalition between the I-position of teacher and a third position of coordinator; and (5) meta-position: trivialising the importance of status. These identity narratives offer starting points for supporting undergraduate teachers during their early professional years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601
Number of pages622
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number3
Early online date18 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Dialogical self
  • Figured world
  • Identity
  • Medical teacher
  • Narrative

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