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Exploring competent professional practice

9 May 2022

Congratulations to Dr Siobhan Dumbreck following the successful defence of her thesis in a virtual viva in February 2022. Examiners were the School of Management's Professor Paul Hibbert and Professor Val Wass of the University of Aberdeen.

Dr Dumbreck's research used social practice theory to illuminate what is meant by competent professional practice. She looked at evidence-based practice as social rather than linear and predictable, and considered the complexities of how medical students can use evidence-based practice.

Her study indicated a way to differentiate between unwarranted variation from a well-founded and mandated evidence base, versus exercise of professional judgement and use of alternative sources of knowledge.

She explains:

"My research showed the value of the medical student considering ethical principles to support the patient to co-construct the performance. Patient-centred care could be demonstrated by the medical student being explicit about connecting with meaning from within the practice of the patient, to respect patient autonomy and epistemic justice.

By teaching for connections, tutors can support students to reflect on both the meaning element within the practice, and the material element within practice, to provide patient-centred care within evidence-based practice."

This work offers insights for others who support students who may provide professional services to their clients, and has implications for policymakers developing incentives and regulatory policies.

Dr Dumbreck is currently a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews, working on a project funded by the Scottish Medical Education Research Consortium (SMERC) to evaluate the provision and use of Occupational Health services across Scottish medical schools.

Dr Siobhan Dumbreck