Transitioning from university to postgraduate medical training: A narrative review of work readiness of medical graduates

James Padley, Sarah Boyd, Alison Jones, Lucie Walters

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Context Work readiness is often described in terms of the clinical competence medical graduates bring to day 1 of internship. Despite being increasingly viewed as a key graduate outcome, work readiness has remained poorly defined. Objective This narrative review draws on the international literature to explore how different research methods provide differing insight into what constitutes work readiness of medical graduates. From this, we explored contributory factors and developed a conceptual framework to better understand work readiness. Methods Databases were searched using the terms including ?ready,? ?readiness,? ?preparedness,? ?medical graduates,? ?intern,? and ?junior doctor.? Information was summarized using a textual description template that included information on study setting, participants, methodologies, limitations, and key result areas (including measures/themes and study conclusions). Consensus discussions between authors led to the naming and understanding of the key themes. Results Seventy studies were included in the review. Study participants included final-year medical students (n = 20), junior doctors early in internship (n = 24), and junior doctors late in internship or postgraduate year 2 and above (n = 23). Most studies explored work readiness through the retrospective self-report of the students and/or junior doctor participants. Quantitative research methods elaborated on key skills-based competencies, whereas qualitative research methods provided insight into key contextual and individual characteristics that contributed to preparedness. Conclusions Different research methods provided insight into competencies, as well as individual and contextual aspects, associated with preparedness for practice. The transition from university to clinical practice is significant and requires personal capability and confidence, as well as a supportive training context. Enabling students to engage authentically in clinical environments enhanced preparedness by promoting understanding of role and responsibility. Individual resilience is important, but contextual factors, including provision of adequate support and feedback, can enhance or subtract from feeling prepared. We propose a novel conceptual framework for better understanding work readiness.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere270
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Science Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • education
  • readiness
  • graduate
  • intern


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