Betwixt and Between: Exploring the Liminal Space of the ‘First Generation’ Filipino Physician Through the Lens of the Rites of Passage


Introduction: The ‘first generation’ physician gathers a lot of strength to venture into a world unknown to him. Unlike a physician born to a family of physicians who has a family to guide him, the ‘first generation’ physician only has himself to survive this endeavor. Through the life worlds of a select group of ‘first generation’ physician-in-training, this study seeks to answer the following central question: How do ‘first generation’ Filipino physicians collectively characterize their liminal spaces in transition from medical school to clinical practice?


Methodology: Anchored on the Theory of the Rites of Passage, this phenomenological inquiry, intends to surface the lebenswelt or essence of the experience of being the only physician in the family. Respondents comprised a purposive sample of physicians-in-training (residents and fellows), who are the only physicians in the family. Data were gathered using semi-structured interviews. Triangulation and member checking procedures were done to ensure the data reliability. Data were then subjected to cool (categorization) and warm analysis (thematization) using the Colaizzi's method.


Findings and Discussion: With all the transcribed experiences summarized and those with the same meaning analyzed, the following categories and themes were generated: The Intending Facet / Purpose: From Uncertainty towards Redefinition; The Thinking Facet / Process: From Perplexity towards Self-efficacy; The Relating Facet / People: From Isolation towards Integration; and The Transforming Facet / Power: From Vulnerability towards Empowerment. It was shown that a ‘first generation’ physician in this liminal space undergoes challenges and struggles during his training in medicine. This served as his Rite of Passage to transition him to someone dreaming only to become a physician, to become redefined with conviction, supported and integrated into the health system, empowered and transformed to the physician he is meant to be.


Recommendations: Physicians undergo a lot of challenges and mental stress and it means a lot for trainers to enter into the trainees’ life-world, especially that of a ‘first generation’ physician, so that they can build socio-emotional learning and mentoring programs and counselling services that address different facets of liminal space that the trainees go through.

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