Health Professions Education

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Overview: Self-Determination in Health Professions Education

The first review of the medical education literature exploring motivation research appeared in 2011, and in this review motivation was found to be an independent as well as a dependent variable in medical education. (Kusurkar et al. 2011) Motivation was influenced by factors that could not be manipulated like age and gender, and by factors that could be manipulated like autonomy, support and relatedness, the basic psychological needs described by SDT. Motivation was found to influence outcomes like academic success and performance, learning and study behaviour, choice of medicine as a career, specialty choice and intention to continue medical studies. Following this, a literature review of the  major curricular reforms in medical education brought to light that motivation was not given any consideration while designing medical curricula. (Kusurkar et al. 2012) Since then empirical papers reporting evidence for the association of autonomous motivation with deep learning, academic performance and student well-being in medical and dental education have appeared as have papers exploring the role of basic psychological needs in motivation and well-being. (Orsini et al. 2016) Research using the SDT framework has spanned topics like medical admissions and selection processes, motivation of ethnic minority students, motivation of medical specialists and pharmacists, autonomy supportive practices in medical and dental education and practice, motivation of physicians for teaching, motivation of students for interprofessional education and autonomy-supportive health professional-patient consultations.

In Practice: Health Professions Education

More and more teachers and education coordinators in HPE are paying attention to practicing and encouraging autonomy-supportive teaching practices with a view to stimulate autonomous motivation of students. Although this movement has begun, we still have a long way to go organize education in such a way that every student has the possibility to grow and achieve at his full potential.  

Suggested Readings & Research


(2020) Patient Education and Counseling

Factors influencing autonomy supportive consultation: A realist review

Rashmi Kusurkar

(2011) Medical Teacher

Motivation as an independent and a dependent variable in medical education: A review of the literature

Rashmi Kusurkar

(2012) Academic Medicine

Have motivation theories guided the development and reform of medical education curricula? A review of the literature

Rashmi Kusurkar

(2016) Journal of Educational Evaluation for Health Professions

Determinants and outcomes of motivation in health professions education: A systematic review based on self-determination theory

Cesar Orsini

(2011) AMEE Guide No. 59, Medical Teacher

How self-determination theory can assist our understanding of the teaching and learning processes in medical education

Geoffrey Williams Rashmi Kusurkar

(2022) BMC Medical Education

Promoting a sense of belonging, engagement, and collegiality to reduce burnout: A mixed methods study among undergraduate medical students in a non-Western, Asian context

Nurse Education Today

Development and validation of INTENSS, a need-supportive training for nurses to support patients’ self-management

(2021) MedEdPublish

Autonomy-supportive teaching in medicine: From motivational theory to educational practice

Adam Neufeld

(2017) CBE-Life Sciences Education

Mentoring interventions for underrepresented scholars in biomedical and behavioral sciences: Effects on quality of mentoring interactions and discussions

Richard Ryan Jennifer La Guardia

(2016) Academic Medicine

A randomized controlled trial of mentoring interventions for underrepresented minorities

Richard Ryan Jennifer La Guardia