#KEYLIMEPODCAST 330: “Every way of seeing is also a way of not seeing.” (K. Burke, 1935)

Lara presents a cross sectional study that aims to develop new understandings of professional identify formation (PIF) literature specific to Black/African American physicians by challenging the assumptions made in the dominant PIF literature.

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KeyLIME Session 330

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Wyatt et., al. 2021. “Changing the narrative”: a study on professional identity formation among Black/African American physicians in the U.S. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 26(1):183-198


Lara Varpio (@LaraVarpio)


  • Kenneth Burke said “every way of seeing is also a way of not seeing”
  • There are many different ways of seeing the world.
  • What Burke suggests that the way we see the world is not the way everyone sees the world. By seeing the world in one way, we need to recognize that we are also NOT engaging in other ways of seeing.
  • This is also very true when it comes to the theories we use to inform our research. Every theory that we embrace enables us to build insights. It is one way of seeing. It might be what we consider to be the best theory we have right now. But that will surely change. Any particular theory is not the one that we will use forever. So we should explore other ways of seeing, other theories. Because every way of seeing is also a way of not seeing. Every theory shines a light on some aspects of a phenomenon, but there are other aspects of a phenomenon that are hidden in the shadows created by that theory. This paper is all about those shadows


  • The goal of this study is to challenge the assumptions made in the dominant PIF literature to develop a new understandings of PIF specific to Black/African American physicians.

Key Points on the Methods

  • Constructivist orientation
  • A cross sectional study looking at the experiences of African American students residents and attending physicians in America.
  • Semi structured interview and that explored moments when those participants perceived that their race or ethnicity was salient or foregrounded in their profession. They asked participants about their reactions to those moments and how they intersected their professional identity
  • Data collection and analysis were conducted using a constructivist grounded theory approach they did iterative data collection and analysis until data saturation was achieved.
  • Look at the way the authors use three layers of theory to inform their analysis – SOOO cool

Key Outcomes

  • The results demonstrate how a dominant conceptualisation of professional identity formation has been forwarded in medical education
  • First, the authors talk about how participants are on alert when joining the medical community.
  • second the participants talked about engaging in racial uplift
  • Third participants talked about the role of being a mentor.

Key Conclusions

  • PiF experiences of black and African American physicians is influenced by the social historical context that excluded them from medical training for nearly a century and the culture of whiteness that was allowed to permeate during their absence.

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