STUDENT PHYSIOTHERAPISTS’ NARRATIVES AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF PROFESSIONAL IDENTITIES: ANTIROLE MODELS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF DIFFERENCE
University of Central Lancashire (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Page: 2389 (abstract only)
Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Drawing upon the biographical narratives (Reissman 2008, Andrews 2010) of eight student physiotherapists and situated within an interpretive paradigm (Foucault 1989, Burr 2003) this paper has explored the construction of professional identities within physiotherapy education. It has been predicated upon notions of identity as constructed through social interactions, therefore a relational concept requiring interaction, enactment and reciprocity and situated within a contemporary professional context epitomised by increasing interprofessionalism (Barr 2009) challenging notions of what being a physiotherapist means.
The main findings of this paper suggest that student physiotherapists enter physiotherapy education (or very soon after, develop) with a well formed idea of what being a physiotherapist means, constructing an idealised professional self (Burke and Stet 2009). This idealised professional self becomes the lens through which they subsequently experience and evaluate their professional education experiences.
The process of constructing professional identities involves student physiotherapists in a continuous cycle of identity performance, mediation and management, through which they seek opportunities to confirm their idealised professional self. These findings suggest that student physiotherapists exercise individual agency to construct socially and spatially situated professional identities in everyday professional interaction and supports contemporary notions of professional socialisation as interactive (Clouder 2003).
Theoretically, it emphasises the concept of role models (Gibson 2004) and highlights the importance of anti-role models or disidentification (Williams 2012). Practically, it offers physiotherapy educators the opportunity to reconsider the complexities of professional identity and its place within the learning context and suggests that narratives of experience have the capacity to become are important cultural tools for future students.
Keywords: Professional Identity, narrative.