Doctor speaking with patient in hospital

Why is it important? 

MEdIC's research in this area focuses on the professional identity and practice of both medical students and medical educators. Development of strong professional identities has been shown to be central to supporting students in the transition to becoming doctors who practice in ethical and professional ways. However, developing a professional identity can be challenging and cause tensions for both students and educators, particularly for those from underrepresented groups. MEdIC's work looks at ways to further understand the complex processes of professional identity development in order to better support medical students and medical educators, minimising these tensions and challenges as appropriate.  

Innovation and research  

MEdIC's work considers how both identity development and professional practice might best be supported using a range of innovative methods including medical humanities and longitudinal clerkships. We are carrying out innovative work (in collaboration with Hull & York Medical School and the University of Melbourne Medical School), into how professional identity development might be explicitly covered in the early years curriculum in order to influence students as they progress through medical school and on their future careers as doctors. Much of our work in this theme is with international partners and enables us to consider cross cultural differences in identity development and professional practice. 

In collaboration with Birkbeck, University of London, MEdIC has introduced medical humanities into the undergraduate medical curriculum and are currently undertaking research to explore the professional impact of this interdisciplinary and innovative humanities teaching. We have held creative workshops for faculty and community GP tutors to further demonstrate how the medical humanities lens can help doctors to explore issues such as clinical uncertainty, medical error, professional identity and reflective practice, all of which are essential for patient care and personal wellbeing.

MEdIC has also undertaken research exploring the influence of the norms and values within a medical school on students’ perceptions of general practice as a future career in order to understand and address the recruitment shortage in this area. In Summer 2020 MEdIC has been proud to launch a first of its kind Global creative competition, bringing together the community of medical students across the globe, exploring the impact of COVID-19 on them personally and professionally through the arts and humanities. We had nearly 650 entries from 52 countries. Finalists were presented with their prizes at a prize giving ceremony in October 2020. We are exploring research projects on the global impact of the pandemic on medical students.

If you’re interested in discussing a project or collaboration on this theme please contact Dr Sonia Kumar or Dr Jo Horsburgh


Current active projects

  • The presentation and management of children and young people presenting with food insecurity in primary care
  • Exploring the impact of students’ personal and professional belief systems on health and illness behaviours and beliefs in collaboration with Professor Jane Ogden, Professor in Health Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Surrey
  • Cross cultural perceptions of unprofessional behaviour at medical school through a Q sort analysis - Collaboration with Dr Maham Stanyon, Professor Koji Otani and Professor Yayoi Kameoka, Centre for Medical Education and Career Development, Fukushima Medical University, Japan.
  • Exploration of early years medical students’ professional identify development – collaboration with Hull & York Medical School and the University of Melbourne Medical School
  • Exploring medical students’ perceptions of a career in General Practice using student reflective diaries – collaboration with University College London
  • Management and patient safety of complex elderly patients in primary care during the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK – a service evaluation
  • Exploring the impact of medical student volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ professional identity, development and learning


Selected presentations

The Hidden Curriculum: An Ethnographic Exploration of Students' Perceptions of General Practice
Chan, S.C.C., Mediratta, S., Smith, R., Yuan, J., Gajria, C., Gunning, E., Singh, S., Jones, M., Parekh, R., Kumar, S. & Park, S. 
Society of Academic Primary Care (SAPC), Regional Madingley conference 2019  

The Art of Medicine - using humanities to move from knowledge to wisdom
Winning, J. and Thacker, N.
Society of Academic Primary Care (SAPC), Regional Madingley conference 2019  

A qualitative study of an approach to change management in medical education
Kumar, S., Maini, A., and Horsburgh, J.
Developing Excellence in Medical Education conference (DEMEC) 2019

Selected Publications

‘Capable of being in uncertainties’: applied medical humanities in undergraduate medical education

Thacker, N., Wallis, J., and Winning, J.
BMJ Journals, Medical Humanities, doi: 10.1136/medhum-2020-012127

Medical students experience of the hidden curriculum around primary care careers: a qualitative exploration of reflective diaries

Parekh, R., Jones, M.M., Singh, S., Yuan, J.S.J., Chan, S.C.C., Mediratta, S., Smith, R., Gunning, E., Gajria, C., Kumar, S., Park, S.
BMJ Open, doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-049825

Thacker, N., Wallis, J., and Winning, J.