Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Final-Year Diagnostic Radiography Students' Perception of Role Models within the Profession

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Final-Year Diagnostic Radiography Students' Perception of Role Models within the Profession

Article excerpt

Within a clinical education setting, the value of role models and prescribed mentors can be seen as an important influence in shaping the student's future as a diagnostic radiographer. A study was undertaken to create a new understanding of how diagnostic radiography students perceive role models and professional behavior in the workforce. The study aimed to determine the impact of clinical education in determining modeling expectations, role model identification and attributes, and the integration of academic education and "hands-on" clinical practice in preparing diagnostic radiography students to enter the workplace. Thirteen final-year (third-year) diagnostic radiography students completed an hour-long interview regarding their experiences and perceptions of role models while on clinical placement. The key concepts that emerged illustrated that students gravitate toward radiographers who enjoy sharing practical experiences with students and are good communicators. Unique to diagnostic radiography, students made distinctions about the presence of role models in private versus public service delivery. This study gives insight to clinical educators in diagnostic radiography and wider allied health into how students perceive role models, interact with preceptors, and combine real-life experiences with formal learning. J Allied Health 2008;37:214-220.

THE DEFINITION of a role model is one that can encom- pass a wide range of "ideal" attributes, seemingly differing from one individual to the next. A number of investigators have attempted to define role models and in a broader sense their effect on the individual. Role theory proposes that individuals perceive their identity in relation to those with whom they associate, those who have related roles, and those who affect or are affected by the individual's identity and performance.1 Further, a role model can be defined as a "cognitive construction based on the attributes of people in social roles an individual perceives to be similar to him or herself to some extent and desires to increase perceived similarity by emulating those attributes."2

Although a role model is generally seen as an individual who has a positive impact on oneself, it has been found that role models exhibiting negative behavior may exist. Through coming into contact with a role model who possesses negative attributes, the individual notes the behavior and makes a decision in attempting not to emulate and reproduce the actions of the certain individual. This has been noted by Gibson,3 who commented that one may learn to avoid certain attributes or behaviors when under the guidance of those role models who are similar to the individual to a certain extent.

The area of role modeling and mentors has been focused on extensively in the nursing profession, including studies conducted with undergraduate nursing students and their experiences within the clinical setting.4-7 Furthermore, the field of medicine has also acknowledged the importance of role models in a number of studies.8,9 At present, the research area of role models within radiography and their influence on the teaching of students within the clinical setting is unrepresented in the literature.

Lewis and Robinson10 illustrated that the attributes of "patient welfare, care and advocacy" and "communication skills" were ranked desirable in the construction of an ideal role model by qualified diagnostic radiographers. Within a clinical education setting, the value of role models can be seen as an important influence in shaping the student's future as a radiographer. It is in this setting within the workplace where, for a number of weeks over the course of 3 yrs, students learn under the instruction of qualified radiographers. As student diagnostic radiographers, role models within the profession are influential in formulating professional practice characteristics. These characteristics may encompass patient care and communication skills, ethical behavior, and technical competence. …

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