Exploring the Impact of Reflecting upon Pharmacy Experts’ Written Career Guidance on Student Professional Identity Formation

  • Laurie L. Briceland Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Tatiana Martinez Asante Three Rivers Medical Center
Keywords: critical reflection, professional role-modelling, self-awareness, student pharmacist, student professional development, professional identity formation


Study Objective: To explore the impact of reading and critically reflecting upon professional development guidance provided by pharmacy experts upon student professional identity formation (PIF).

Methods: Fifteen second professional year student pharmacists completed an elective course assignment to read 20 published personal letters from Letters to a Young Pharmacist, in which pharmacy experts offer career and life guidance to novice or student pharmacists. From those, each student selected four letters and for each composed a 500 to 600-word critical reflection describing the impact of the letter, yielding 60 reflections for thematic analysis.  Each author individually analyzed and coded de-identified reflections for up to 3 types of impact. Data were then grouped for similarity and collapsed into themes; overarching evidence of transformative thinking and “eye-opening” were also coded.  

Results: Of 60 reflections, 160 types of impact were identified, and were grouped into five themes.  Most often, students described an impact from Personal Growth (41.3%), followed by Professional Growth (16.9%), Forging Relationships (16.2%), Making an Impact (15%) and Morality (10.6%).   “Eye-opening” and “transformative thinking” was evidenced in 21 of 60 (35%) and 53 of 60 (88.3%) reflections, respectively.    

Conclusions: Student pharmacists experienced growth in PIF by reflecting upon published excerpts from pharmacy experts, as demonstrated by coding for impact and transformative thinking.  This novel method of students’ critically reflecting upon expert’s readings, followed by instructor feedback to reinforce the learning, offers a streamlined and easily implemented modality to enable students PIF development during their didactic curriculum. 


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Received 2022-03-23
Accepted 2022-06-12
Published 2022-09-26