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Byram JN, Frankel RM, Isaacson JH, Mehta N. The impact of COVID-19 on professional identity. The clinical teacher. 2022 Jun 1; 19(3):205-212.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on medical care and medical student education as clinical rotations were halted and students'' clinical activities were drastically curtailed. Learning experiences in medical school are known to promote identity formation through teamwork, reflection, and values-based community discussion. This study explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical students'' professional identity formation (PIF). METHODS: Students in all cohorts of medical education were invited by email in May 2020 to submit a written reflection about their learning experiences and impact of the pandemic on their PIF. We used iterative individual and team reviews, known as the "immersion/crystallisation" method, to code and analyse the data. FINDINGS: Twenty-six students (20%) submitted reflections in which they discussed "changing conceptions of the role and image of a physician," "views about medical education," and the "role of students in a pandemic." Students viewed physicians as altruistic, effective communicators, and pledged to be like them in the future. Their perceptions of virtual learning were mixed, along with considerations of lost interactions with patients, and wanting to be more useful as professionals-in-training. DISCUSSION: COVID-19 has impacted students'' views of themselves and reshaped their ideas, both negatively and positively, about the profession they are entering and their role(s) in it. CONCLUSION: Exploring PIF and the impact of disruptions has allowed us to address the issues raised regarding clinical learning now and into the future. Reflection enhances PIF and unexpected events, such as COVID-19, offer opportunities for reflection and development.