First of the First: Medical Students’ Reflections of Personal Growth

By Renu Narchal, Leanne S. Cowin, Ian Wilson and David Harding.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Transitions from school to university are major life events impacting previously established routines. This has potential for elevating stress that entails coping. Employing focus groups, this unique study endeavoured to understand the struggles, strengths, challenges and the first year experience of the “first of the first” cohort of medical students at a newly developed medical school. Three main themes identified were: (i) unique experience of being the first cohort; (ii) first year experience and (iii) perceptions of personal growth. Supportive peers, faculty and novel teaching approaches could potentially off-set stressful aspects of transition like altered routines; absence of seniors; past exam resources and weakening friendships. Both content (course structure; curriculum; teaching methodology) and context of teaching (supportive faculty; adequate social support; resourced environment) have policy implications for educators. Appropriate scaffolding (type and extent of support) will promote student wellbeing and minimize attrition.

Keywords: First Year Experience, Transitions and Development, Medical Students, First Cohort, Personal Growth, Professional Self, Qualitative Study

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp.353-364. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.041MB).

Dr. Renu Narchal

Lecturer, School of Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Renu Narchal is a Lecturer in Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Western Sydney. She is a member of the APS College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists. As a developmental psychologist, Renu is keen to explore how significant life changes impact development. Her current research interests are in life transitions including those from school to university settings; migratory experiences and settlement issues like social isolation, loneliness, ethnic discrimination and their influence on the self-concept, health and wellbeing.

Dr. Leanne S. Cowin

Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Leanne Cowin is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Western Sydney and is the creator of several statistical tools to measure professional issues in the field of nursing. Publications topics include self-concept, job satisfaction, and mental health. Leanne is currently completing a Masters degree in applied statistics to complement her extensive experience with instrument development and construct validation work.

Prof. Ian Wilson

Associate Head, School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Ian Wilson is Professor of Medical Education and Head of Program in the School of Medicine at University of Western Sydney. He has a background in academic general practice, but recently has focussed on medical education. His research interests are student distress, student selection and professional identity.

David Harding

PhD Student, Medical Education, School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

David has a Bachelor of Arts degree leading on to an Honours degree and a Masters of Clinical Psychology, consequently David has excellent skills as a focus group convenor. At the time of this project David was immersed in his PhD project investigating selection methods in medical schools.


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