• Emma Richards The University of Queensland
  • Kay Colthorpe The University of Queensland
  • Louise Ainscough The University of Queensland
  • Judit Kibedi The University of Queensland


skills and attributes, self-esteem, professional identity, biomedical science


BACKGROUND The development of professional skills and attributes allows students to build self-esteem, identify with others and view themselves within a profession (Hunter et al., 2007). However, this can be challenging for those within generalist degrees with a diversity of graduate destinations, such as biomedical science (Panaretos et al., 2019). When students in specialised degrees learn skills and attributes that aren’t applicable to their desired career, a disconnect occurs, which impacts professional identity development (Noble et al., 2014). This study examined the relationships between skills, attributes and self-esteem among biomedical science students and how this impacts on professional identity. METHODS Second year biomedical science students (n=582) were asked to describe their desired profession, skills and attributes they possessed and needed to develop, and their self-esteem. Consenting students’ responses were subjected to inductive thematic analyses (Braun & Clarke, 2006). RESULTS & DISCUSSION Students described a variety of desired professions, with medicine being the most common. Students also described many skills and attributes that were needed for those professions. There was a correlation between awareness of skills and attributes and self-esteem, reflecting students’ developing strong professional identity. This suggests students with greater awareness are more likely be confident in their chosen career. REFERENCES Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3(2), 77-101. Hunter, A. B., Laursen, S. L., & Seymour, E. (2007). Becoming a scientist: The role of undergraduate research in students' cognitive, personal, and professional development. Science education, 91(1), 36-74. Noble, C., O’Brien, M., Coombes, I., Shaw, P. N., Nissen, L., & Clavarino, A. (2014). Becoming a pharmacist: students’ perceptions of their curricular experience and professional identity formation. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 6(3), 327-339. Panaretos, C., Colthorpe, K., Kibedi, J. and Ainscough, L., (2019). Biomedical science students’ intended graduate destinations. International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 27(9); 1-16.

Author Biographies

Emma Richards, The University of Queensland

Student, School of Biomedical Sciences.

Kay Colthorpe, The University of Queensland

Associate Professor, School of Biomedical Sciences.

Louise Ainscough, The University of Queensland

Teaching-focused Senior Lecturer, School of Biomedical Sciences.

Judit Kibedi, The University of Queensland

Teaching-focused Lecturer, School of Biomedical Sciences.