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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Becoming a medical educator: motivation, socialisation and navigation

Emma Bartle* and Jill Thistlethwaite

Author Affiliations

Centre for Medical Education Research and Scholarship, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, 288 Herston Road, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:110  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-110

Published: 31 May 2014

Abstract

Background

Despite an increasing concern about a future shortage of medical educators, little published research exists on career choices in medical education nor the impact of specific training posts in medical education (e.g. academic registrar/resident positions). Medical educators at all levels, from both medical and non-medical backgrounds, are crucial for the training of medical students, junior doctors and in continuing professional development. We explored the motivations and experiences of junior doctors considering an education career and undertaking a medical education registrar (MER) post.

Methods

Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with junior doctors and clinicians across Queensland Health. Framework analysis was used to identify themes in the data, based on our defined research questions and the medical education workforce issues prompting the study. We applied socio-cognitive career theory to guide our analysis and to explore the experience of junior doctors in medical education registrar posts as they enter, navigate and fulfil the role.

Results

We identified six key themes in the data: motivation for career choice and wanting to provide better education; personal goals, expectations and the need for self-direction; the influence of role models; defining one’s identity; support networks and the need for research as a potential barrier to pursuing a career in/with education. We also identified the similarities and differences between the MERs’ experiences to develop a composite of an MER’s journey through career choice, experience in role and outcomes.

Conclusions

There is growing interest from junior doctors in pursuing education pathways in a clinical environment. They want to enhance clinical teaching in the hospitals and become specialists with an interest in education, and have no particular interest in research or academia. This has implications for the recruitment and training of the next generation of clinical educators.