Personal Profiling in Early Professional Development

Ruth Heames

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Profiling is a dynamic learning process designed to enable individuals to identify their strengths, needs and aspirations in order to set specific strategic and behavioural goals for personal and professional development. At its simplest profiling helps individuals become lifelong learners (Hull et al 2005) prepared to embrace change. This presentation will focus on the outcomes of a single-site case study which explored occupational therapy students’ attitudes and experiences of profiling in the context of their early professional development.

With ongoing NHS reforms, healthcare practitioners must be adaptable, have ‘capabilities and skills to provide new models of personalised care’ (DH 2010:13). Students entering practice therefore need to be intellectually and emotionally prepared to work flexibly and face challenges and opportunities of change positively.

The profiling system explored aims to support students in becoming lifelong learners through the process of integrating University-based studies and practice-based learning. Reflection and reflective writing underpins profiling as it lies at the interface between theory and practice and advancement of knowledge. It may be seen as a ‘melting pot’ or ‘cognitive housekeeping’ to imply a sorting out, clarifying process (Moon 2004:189) fundamental to personal professional development.

A cross-sectional cohort approach was adopted which employed a survey design of quantitative and qualitative data-gathering questionnaires with a sample of students from each year for inclusivity. Attitudes and experiences of students were further explored through semi-structured interviews.

Findings suggest students generally appear to have a positive attitude to personal profiling. The value is experienced at varying psychological levels, depending on students’ willingness, motivation to engage with the process and psychological preparedness. A model of levels of engagement in profiling is proposed with students’ experiences indicating that the process of profiling is challenging, psychologically messy and an uncertain process yet worthwhile in the overall pursuit of professional development.

The conclusion drawn from the study is that students have the intellectual capability and potential to benefit from personal profiling. Students appear to self-consciously recognise, articulate and acknowledge the value of personal profiling in facilitating early professional development.

Department of Health (2010) Liberating the NHS: developing the healthcare workforce. London: Department of Health. Hull, C., Redfern, L. and Shuttleworth, A. (2005) Profiles and Portfolios: a guide for health and social care. 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. Moon, J. A. (2004) A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: theory and practice. London. Routledge Falmer.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2012
EventSociety for the Research in Higher Education : Newer Researchers Conference - Newport, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Dec 201211 Dec 2012


ConferenceSociety for the Research in Higher Education
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Profiling
  • Dvelopment
  • Case Study
  • Professional
  • Engagement


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