Strangers in a strange land: The experience of physicians undergoing remediation

Gisèle Bourgeois-Law*, Glenn Regehr, Pim W. Teunissen, Lara Varpio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: The experience of remediation in practising physicians has not been widely studied. Remediatees frequently present negative emotions, but observers can only infer the underlying reasons behind these. Understanding remediatees' perspectives may help those mandating and organising remediation to structure the process in ways that improve the experience for all concerned parties and maximise chances of a successful outcome for remediatees. Methods: Seventeen physicians who had undergone remediation for clinical competence concerns were interviewed via telephone. Participant data were first iteratively analysed thematically and then reanalysed using a narrative mode of analysis for each participant in order to understand the stories as wholes. Figured worlds (FW) theory was used as a lens for analysing the data for this constructivist research study. Results: Participants entering the FW of remediation perceived that their position as a ‘good doctor’ was threatened. Lacking experience with this world and with little available support to help them navigate it, participants used their agency to draw on various discursive threads within the FW to construct a narrative account of their remediation. In their narratives, participants tended to position themselves either as victims of regulatory bodies or as resilient individuals who could make the best of a difficult situation. In both cases, the chosen discursive threads enabled them to maintain their self-identity as ‘good doctor’. Conclusion: Remediation poses a threat to a physician's professional and personal identity. Focusing mainly on the educational aspect of remediation—that is, the improvement in knowledge and skills—risks missing its impact on physician identity. We need to ensure not only that we support physicians in dealing with this identity threat but that our assessment and remediation processes do not inadvertently encourage remediatees to draw on discursive threads that lead them to see themselves as victims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-679
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


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