Best practice in supporting professional identity formation: Use of a professional reasoning framework

Armitage-Chan, E A (2019) Best practice in supporting professional identity formation: Use of a professional reasoning framework. JOURNAL OF VETERINARY MEDICAL EDUCATION.

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Abstract

Professional identity and professionalism education are increasingly important to veterinary education, but many of the concepts remain intangible to veterinary students, and engagement is a persistent challenge. While whole-curriculum integration is recommended for a successful professional studies program, this is complicated by clinical faculty’s discomfort with the content. Where professional studies education is centered around professional identity formation, a key element of this is the multi-perspective nature of veterinary work, with the veterinarian negotiating the needs of multiple stakeholders in animal care. Constructing teaching around a framework of professional reasoning, which incorporates the negotiation of different stakeholder needs, ethical decision making, communication, teamwork, and outcome monitoring, offers the potential to make professional identity a concept more visible to students in veterinary work, and guides students in the contextualization of taught material. A framework is presented for veterinary professional reasoning that signposts wider curriculum content and helps illustrate where material such as veterinary business studies, animal welfare, the human–animal bond, and professional responsibility, as well as attributes such as empathy and compassion, all integrate in the decisions and actions of the veterinary professional. The aims of this framework are to support students’ engagement in professional studies teaching and help them use workplace learning experiences to construct an appropriate professional identity for competence and resilience in the clinic. For faculty involved in curriculum design and clinical teaching, the framework provides a tool to support the integration of professional identity concepts across the extended curriculum.