Near-Peer Teaching Opportunities Influence Professional Identity Formation as Educators in Future Clinicians

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Medical Science Educator


Teaching is a key role of a physician. Despite this, medical students are rarely exposed to the necessary skills and techniques throughout the duration of their education to prepare them for this component of their training. The gross anatomy lab provides a safe environment for students serving as near-peer educators to teach and learn to manage unexpected and uncomfortable situations. Students acting in near-peer teaching roles see a range of benefits from addressing personal weaknesses to improving communication skills and enhancing their anatomy and clinical knowledge, but there remains a lack of insight on how these experiences shape students’ professional identity. This study examined how the professional identities of second-year medical students are shaped by serving as peer educators (PEs) in a gross anatomy laboratory. Gross anatomy PEs from the 2022 and 2025 cohorts recorded audio diary reflections at the end of each week they served as a PE highlighting how this role impacted how they view themselves as future physicians. Audio diary recordings were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using the framework method which includes familiarization, code application, and interpretation. A total of 26 audio diaries averaging 4 min in length were recorded across 11 PEs. Themes included Balancing Workload, Role of a Near Peer, Learning to Communicate, Learning to Collaborate, and Learning through Teaching. Students recognized that in addition to reinforcing their didactic training, serving as a peer educator in the gross anatomy lab helped them build skills necessary to fulfil their future role as a physician educator.