International undergraduate medical students' self-identified professional behaviour needs for research settings

Jennifer Lindley, Juanita Fernando

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Background: For international students, the literature shows that the successful move to a new country requires continuous processes of self-formation and resituation.1 Students must recognise the knowledge and skills required in their new situation, and transform prior learning to fit this new context. Research environments require different knowledge and skills to those developed in academic and clinical educational settings. This study aimed to explore the perspectives of undergraduate medical students undertaking a year of research in Australia and to identify the key elements that supported their engagement in this type of program.
Methods: Qualitative data were gathered from eight cohorts of international students undertaking a research-intensive year in an undergraduate medicine program. Small group sessions to explore professionalism issues used a framework based upon Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. 2 The framework allowed participants to articulate their perceived needs to successfully complete the honors program comprising a one year research project based in a research setting.
Results: Thematic analysis of the data shows that participants identified factors they considered important for their success across social, academic and workplace domains. These included personal and professional relationships, personal qualities and professional skills.
Conclusions: For students crossing international boundaries the challenges are exacerbated when simultaneously moving from academic to research contexts. International students can articulate a range of factors they perceive as contributing to their success in completing an intensive research year. These factors link to the professional behaviors required for research workplace settings. Further academic work is clearly required in this domain. The results of our study can be used to inform strategies to assist students moving across work, practice and research boundaries.

1 Fraken, M. (2012). Re-situation challenges for international students ‘becoming’ researchers. Higher Education, 64:845-859. doi:10.1007/s10734-012-9532-5

2 McLeod, S. A. (2007). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Simply Psychology. Retrieved October 2016 from
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2017
EventCUMEC Medical Education Conference - The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Duration: 10 Mar 201711 Mar 2017


ConferenceCUMEC Medical Education Conference
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityHong Kong
Internet address


  • undergraduate medical students
  • international students
  • undergraduate research student experience
  • student needs

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