'I'm Just the Sunday Boy!': Exploring the Role Uncertainty in 'Becoming' a pharmacist

by Brian J Addison

Institution: University of Stirling
Year: 2014
Keywords: pharmacy; uncertainty; professionalism; Actor Network; Pharmacy; Pharmacy students; Pharmacy Study and teaching
Record ID: 1398713
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/21799


This thesis explores the notion of professionalism in pharmacy from a pharmacy education viewpoint, specifically the process of becoming a ‘professional’ as experienced by pharmacy students as they undertake the educational programme required for registration as a pharmacist. Registration as a pharmacist is commonly understood as an end-point in becoming a professional, portraying the educational programme as an acquisitional endeavour where upon completion, an individual has become a professional. Such understandings are problematic as they disguise the complex, uncertain and individual journeys that students experience as they undertake an educational programme that portrays becoming a professional as a static, linear process rather than an on-going negotiation and emergence of professional selves. This study adopts a social constructionist framework to explore the experiences of pharmacy students at one Higher Education Institution (HEI) in the United Kingdom. Rejecting positivistic notions of control, prediction and generalisability this study uses an interpretive approach to the generation and analysis of interview data to gain understandings of the individual and local experiences of pharmacy students at this particular HEI. Interviews were conducted with nineteen students who prepared a repertory grid to describe their own constructions of an ‘ideal’ pharmacist and the grids were used as a catalyst for discussion in individual participant interviews. Using the repertory grid approach afforded an insight into pharmacy students’ experiences of ‘becoming’ a pharmacist, revealing themes and patterns emerging from analysis of student narratives. Drawing on Actor Network Theory (ANT) as a theoretical lens to explore these themes and patterns from a socio-material perspective, the micro-interactions and exchanges that emerged from these networks exposed the innumerable realisations of ‘becoming’ a pharmacist. Tracing some of these networks in this thesis revealed a number of powerful actors in these micro-interactions and exchanges. When considered individually these actors appear inconsequential, however, collectively these micro-interactions and exchanges reveal the highly individualised, complex and uncertain experience of ‘becoming’ a pharmacist. In coming together these non-human and human actors emerge as a driving force in the emergence of student identities as a pharmacist. This study makes an original contribution to pharmacy education by revealing the uncertainty that pharmacy students experience in ‘becoming’ a pharmacist. It identifies that this experience is highly individualised and personal to each student and argues for embracing uncertainty as a helpful and essential experience of ‘becoming’ a pharmacist.