Integration in the early years of medical education: a qualitative inquiry in one medical school

  • Timothy Morris

Student thesis: Phd


Integration is considered to be a key part of medical education by the UK General Medical Council (GMC, 2009, GMC, 2016). Despite this, it is a jargon term without a consistent meaning throughout worldwide medical education. This study used non-participant ethnographic observation of medical students, and semi-structured interviews with both students and staff, with the aim of understanding how students experienced integration at Manchester medical school. The study also aimed to understand facilitators of, and barriers to, the integrated experience. The findings showed how the integrated experience was driven by multi-subject problem-based learning agendas that allowed parallel subject learning to occur via group discussion and via making explicit links to related learning. Experiencing patient contact early in the course, alongside basic science learning, facilitated integration. Integration was also facilitated by the way in which peers supported each other with their learning, and by staff making deliberate attempts to teach in an integrated manner. Barriers to integration included subject compartmentalisation, conflicting information, boundaries between course components, and issues with staff liaison. There was evidence of integration in operation; however, the Manchester medical course fell short of being fully integrated. A new model of integration has been presented to help understand integration in the early years of medical education. This model is informed by the finding presented in this thesis.
Date of Award1 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJoanne Hart (Supervisor) & Sarah Collins (Supervisor)


  • Model of integration
  • Medical Students
  • Medical School
  • Semi-structured interview
  • Integration
  • Years 1 and 2
  • Early years
  • Medical Education
  • Ethnography

Cite this