P115 Students experiences of graduate attribute development, a qualitative study

O'Connor, Diarmuid and Geoghegan, Rosemary (2021) P115 Students experiences of graduate attribute development, a qualitative study. BJS Open, 5 (Supple). ISSN 2474-9842


Abstract Introduction

Graduate attributes are recognised as the skills and values that should be acquired by all students in tertiary education, regardless of their field of study. Graduate attributes have significant relevance to employability and in enhancing students’ personal development.

This research aimed to explore students’ lived experiences of developing two graduate attributes embedded within their undergraduate medical curriculum: communication and collaboration skills.

Phenomenology was the validated, qualitative research method most suited to address the research question. Phenomenology allows one to better understand peoples’ direct, lived experiences of a particular phenomenon; in this case, graduate attribute development.

Purposefully sampled participants were chosen for semi-structured interviews, all of whom had completed the same undergraduate medical education programme. Semi-structured interviews were performed until thematic saturation occurred, at participant eight. The Braun and Clarke method of thematic analysis was utilised to identify recurring themes from the interview process.

The five key themes that emerged were (1) the value placed on graduate attribute development, (2) the presence of graduate attribute learning opportunities, (3) the presence of barriers against graduate attribute development, (4) graduate attribute literacy and preconceptions and (5) the students’ transition into employment.

There is a need for improved graduate attribute assessment methods and the development of meaningful learning strategies that promote transformative learning opportunities.

Barriers against communication and collaboration skills development exist and need to be addressed.

Students need to better understand the relevance of communication and collaboration skills to their future professional careers before the student-to-doctor transition has occurred.

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