Mask-making can be used to examine PIF as a process of reflective expression. We have found mask-making to be a safe and engaging way for students to explore their developing sense of self within the community of medical practice. Students have responded positively to the process. They describe mask-making as provocative, liberating, and fun. From an ontological perspective, the most persuasive illustrations of the power of mask-making to support student reflection and identity formation are the masks and accompanying narratives (Fig. 1).
Recognizing that individuals view their present selves differently from their past or future selves, we feel that mask-making represents a unique way to longitudinally examine identity formation. PIF occurs at a pace that is specific to each student’s experiences and personal contextual factors. Mask-making adds to the process of PIF as a unique form of reflective expression using elements of artistry and non-linguistic expression. The expressive opportunities afforded by mask-making may provide additional insights into identity that are hard to capture in words, lending new direction to the scholarship of professional identity formation.