Shaping professional identity: a descriptive qualitative study on Health and Rehabilitation final year students in higher education.

Amshuda Sonday


Background: Professional identity represents a person’s philosophy of their profession. This identity defines what it means to be and act as a professional.

Aim: This paper will describe the factors that shaped the professional identity of students in Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Communication Sciences Disorders during their four years (2015 – 2018) of studies in the Faculty of Health Sciences in a higher education institution.

Methodology: A descriptive qualitative design was used to describe the factors that emerged. Seven participants were purposively selected from the Faculty of Health Sciences. Individual interviews and a focus group with participants were conducted. Data were analysed inductively.

Findings: The results generated the theme ‘The curriculum and experiences within practice and professional environments shape professional identity’. The findings highlighted how critical events in higher education may have influenced the participants to develop a professional identity.

Conclusion: The curriculum played an integral role in defining how the narrative for each participant was played out and how professional and practice environments greatly shaped the students’ developing professional self.

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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