The Rubik's cube of doing and being: Factors influencing professional identity transition to the medical registrar

Joanne Kerins (Lead / Corresponding author), Emma C. Phillips, Samantha E. Smith, Victoria R. Tallentire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Professional identity transitions, such as the transition to medical registrar, are challenging. How minoritised identities influence transitions during medical training requires further study. This study aimed to explore the factors influencing the transition to the medical registrar in Scotland to guide support during training. 

Methods: Interviews exploring this transition with internal medicine trainees were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and double-coded using template analysis. We applied an initial coding template informed by multiple and multidimensional transition theory of individual, interpersonal, systemic and macro-level factors. Using a critical theory lens, a further template analysis specifically sought to understand how trainees' social identities interacted with the various levels. 

Findings: Nineteen IM trainees were interviewed between January 2021 and February 2022. Influential factors reflected a parallel process of competence (doing) and identity (being) development. The interaction of social identities, such as gender (being a woman) and country of origin (being an international medical graduate), occurred across levels. This can be conceptualised as a Rubik's cube with the interplay between doing and being from an individual to a macro level with trainees' social identities interacting at all levels. 

Conclusion: The transition to the medical registrar is multifaceted; with a challenging balance between support and independence in providing opportunities to perform (doing) whilst identity develops (being). Identity transitions involve multiple Rubik's-cube-like rotations between the facets of ‘doing’ and ‘being,’ until these align. Taking heed of influential factors and the interaction of minoritised social identities could guide a trainee-centred and smoother transition.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13713
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Teacher
Early online date9 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Review and Exam Preparation


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