Professional identity formation in becoming a GP trainer: barriers and enablers

Kevin McConville (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Policy promotes students and doctors becoming GPs, yet there exists little focus on GP trainers' recruitment and retention.

Aim: To explore barriers and enablers facilitating the professional identity formation of a GP becoming a GP trainer.

Design and Setting: A qualitative case study within one training programme of the Scottish Deanery.

Method: Data were collected between January and November 2018 via semi-structured interviews with 16 GP trainers and 79 regulatory and policy documents. Thematic analysis was applied whilst a reflexive stance as a previous GP trainer was maintained.

Results: Findings indicate GPs become GP trainers through experiences and events across three predominant identities: 'Becoming a Doctor', 'Becoming a GP' and 'Becoming a GP Trainer'. Impediment at any of these stages acts as a barrier. The GP trainer role suggests tendencies for clinicians to be understated in their achievements and abilities. GP trainers dually enact and role model that of clinician and teacher; time acts as a significant barrier. The Scottish Prospective Educational Supervisor Course (SPESC), or previous iterations, is a significant enabler. Royal College of GP's contributions towards GP trainers is absent. GP trainer associations with out-of-hours services have changed over time. GP trainer/trainee relationships are essential enablers to a continued GP trainer professional identity.

Conclusion: The role of the GP trainer as a teacher needs highlighting. Processes that protect and maximise this role may enhance the positive contributions of being a teacher. Understanding these themes may enhance recruitment and retention of GP trainers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
JournalEducation for Primary Care
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Professional education
  • general practice
  • medical education


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