Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 585–596 | Cite as

Creating stories to live by: caring and professional identity formation in a longitudinal integrated clerkship



Building on other models of longitudinal integrated clerkships (LIC), the University of Alberta developed its Integrated Community Clerkship with guiding principles of continuity of care, preceptor and learning environment. Professionalism is an important theme in medical education. Caring is important in professional identity formation and an ethic of caring is a moral framework for caring. This study explored the development of an ethic of caring in an LIC using empathy, compassion and taking responsibility as descriptors of caring. Through a hermeneutic phenomenological study, the authors focused on students’ accounts of being with patients. Following an iterative process of successive analyses and explorations of the relevant literature, sensitizing concepts related to physician identity, and an ethic of caring were used to make sense of these accounts following the principles of constructivist grounded theory methodology. Continuity afforded by the LIC results in a safe environment in which students can meaningfully engage with patients and take responsibility for their care under the supervision of a physician teacher. Together these attributes foster an emerging physician identity born at the site of patient-student interaction and grounded in an ethic of caring. A medical student’s evolving professional identity in the clerkship includes the emergence of an ethic of caring. Student accounts of being with patients demonstrate that the LIC at the University of Alberta affords opportunities for students be receptive to and responsible for their patients. This ethic of caring is part of an emerging physician identity for the study participants.


Caring Clerkship Professionalism Undergraduate medical education Professional identity formation 



Thank you to Dr. Carol Hodgson, Gilbert Chair, Medical Education Research, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta and Marie Cave, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta for reviewing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Community Engagement, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and DentistryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.ICC Program Evaluation, Office of Rural and Regional Health, Faculty of Medicine and DentistryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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