The Impact of Postgraduate Qualifications in Medical Education

  • Ahsan Sethi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Due to increasing societal demands, accountability and economic constraints, there has been a paradigm shift in the healthcare culture with a move to formally train medical educators. This has resulted in the professionalisation of medical education, with various development initiatives including postgraduate qualifications. The demand for these qualifications in medical education can be judged by the increase in providers, from 2 to 31 in the UK and from 7 to 124 worldwide over the last two decades. However, detailed information about the influence and effectiveness of such courses remains sparse. This study investigated the impact of postgraduate qualifications in medical education on graduates’ educational identities, practices and career progression.

The study design is mixed methods using the explanatory model. The first study comprised of an online survey of graduates from the Centre for Medical Education, Dundee between 2008 and 2012. The data collected were sequentially explored in more depth through semi-structured interviews in the second study. To increase the range and scope of enquiry a third study was carried out, which involved a 10 month follow-up of a new cohort of face-to-face students (2013/14) through the course and to the workplace. The quantitative data were analysed using non-parametric statistics on SPSS 21, and constructivist grounded theory analysis was used for the qualitative data in ATLAS.ti 7.

I found that a qualification in medical education enhances theoretical foundations in educational practices, with increased self-efficacy and engagement in scholarly activities. The qualification encourages transformational changes and epistemological development as a teacher, researcher, leader and learner. Many participants attributed their career progression to the qualification. The graduates were able to lead various educational changes in the workplace and they described substantial performance attainments. I also found their work environment and personal factors influenced the impact of these qualifications. A conceptual framework based on an increased understanding of the identity development of healthcare educators was also developed.

This is the first study on the long-term effects of a degree-awarding course in medical education on healthcare professionals worldwide. The findings have implications for the educators, course directors, healthcare organisations and professionalisation of the speciality.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsHigher Education Commission, Islamabad & Khyber Medical University
SupervisorSean McAleer (Supervisor), Rola Ajjawi (Supervisor) & Susie Schofield (Supervisor)


  • Faculty development
  • Identity
  • Medical education
  • Medical educator
  • Professional development
  • Professional identity
  • Identity theory

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