A phenomenological study of new doctors’ transition to practice, utilising participant-voiced poetry

Megan E.L. Brown, Amy Proudfoot, Nabilah Y. Mayat, Gabrielle M. Finn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transition to practice can be a turbulent time for new doctors. It has been proposed transition is experienced non-linearly in physical, psychological, cultural and social domains. What is less well known, however, is whether transition within these domains can contribute to the experience of moral injury in new doctors. Further, the lived experience of doctors as they transition to practice is underexplored. Given this, we asked; how do newly qualified doctors experience transition from medical school to practice? One-to-one phenomenological interviews with 7 recently qualified UK doctors were undertaken. Findings were analysed using Ajjawi and Higgs’ framework of hermeneutic analysis. Following identification of secondary concepts, participant-voiced research poems were crafted by the research team, re-displaying participant words chronologically to convey meaning and deepen analysis. 4 themes were identified: (1) The nature of transition to practice; (2) The influence of community; (3) The influence of personal beliefs and values; and (4) The impact of unrealistic undergraduate experience. Transition to practice was viewed mostly negatively, with interpersonal support difficult to access given the 4-month nature of rotations. Participants describe relying on strong personal beliefs and values, often rooted in an ‘ethic of caring’ to cope. Yet, in the fraught landscape of the NHS, an ethic of caring can also prove troublesome and predispose to moral injury as trainees work within a fragmented system misaligned with personal values. The disjointed nature of postgraduate training requires review, with focus on individual resilience redirected to tackle systemic health-service issues.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021


  • Ethic of caring
  • Foundation programme
  • Moral injury
  • Participant-voiced poetry
  • Phenomenology
  • Poetic Inquiry
  • Transition
  • Transition to practice


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