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Home » Research Projects » Learning Responsibility? Exploring Doctors’ Transitions to New Levels of Medical Responsibility

Learning Responsibility?

Exploring doctors’ transitions to new levels of medical performance

Performance in medicine, as for professionals in other fields, can be shaped by the way career shifts play out and how the individual adapts to a new social context and new job demands. Doctors experience numerous career shifts over their working lifetime, whether through promotion or movement to another work unit or even another country; for example, a junior doctor who has spent over a decade homing clinical skills may find that a new role as a consultant requires a whole new range of skills in managing teams, time and conflicts.

The links between transitions and medical performance have not been systematically investigated although, generally, transitions are known to be associated with increased risk of adverse incidents.  Understanding the links between transitions and medical performance requires both better empirical evidence and conceptual thinking.  This focussed exploratory longitudinal study will use a combination of desk based research, interviews and observations to investigate selected key transitions at four levels – individual, clinical teams, employers and the regulatory and policy context.

What the research means for policymakers and the wider community

This study will be of interest to all concerned with improving performance in health care in the UK and overseas, including mangers, regulators, researchers and patient groups. Showing how medical professionals learn as they change roles paves the way for identifying how those transition processes can be influenced to enhance such learning. This way of exploring the link between performance and career shifts may be applied to other occupational areas in the future.

Research methods

The study combines desk-based research with interviews and observations to investigate transitional processes. The desk research will involve literature search and identifying the relevant national and local (region/site/trust) training requirements, protocols and policies for transition processes. The interviews and observations will focus on two key stages where doctors take on new responsibilities. The first is the point when medical students move on to foundation training – the point at which doctors become responsible for prescribing. The second is the point when doctors become specialist registrars and take responsibility for patient management.  In a real-time research process, some twenty doctors will be interviewed at the point of transition and again two to three months later to gain an understanding of the ways in which they have made the transition to new levels of responsibility and performance. In addition, interviews will be carried out with other health professionals to gain an understanding of the transition experience.

Project Outputs

Project Poster 2009

(2008) Putting values into practice, putting practice into values : exploring new doctors’ decision-making, Conference Paper, Society for Research into Higher Education annual conference

Research Team

Trudie Roberts (University of Leeds)

Trudie Roberts (University of Leeds)

Professor Trudie Roberts is Professor of Medical Education and Director of the Medical Education Unit at the University of Leeds. Trudie leads the Education Research Group for the Association for the Study of Medical Education. She is also Head of the Medical School and a practising physician.

Email: t.e.roberts@leeds.ac.uk

Ms. Susan Kilminster (University of Leeds)

Ms. Susan Kilminster (University of Leeds)

Ms Susan Kilminster is Principal Research Fellow in the Medical Education Unit at the University of Leeds.

Email: s.kilminster@leeds.ac.uk

Prof. Miriam Zukas (University of Leeds)

Prof. Miriam Zukas (University of Leeds)

Professor Miriam Zukas is Professor of Adult Education and Director of the Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Leeds.

Email: m.zukas@leeds.ac.uk

Dr Naomi Quinton

Lecturer in Medical Education

Email: n.d.quinton@leeds.ac.uk