No research has been conducted specifically on Australian interns' and junior house officers' (Junior Doctors') medical training primarily using sociological concepts to analyse the medical culture. This thesis focuses on the professional and cultural developmental experiences of junior doctors and aims to fill a knowledge gap in the early socio-cultural study of junior doctors. Using the sociological theories of Pierre Bourdieu, I account for professional cultural change in junior doctors across the first two years of their early hospital work.
This research uses qualitative interviews at two distinct training points: the entry point, at the first weeks of internship and second year and at the exit point (after twelve months) of the medical training years. Videotaping of medical and surgical ward rounds was also conducted with video scene analysis complementing that of the interviews. It has been found that as part of the professional development process, junior doctors are learning to become 'social doctors' in addition to 'clinical doctors' through the training experiences within the medical culture.
Medical culture is shown here to teach doctors ways of negotiating within the medical hierarchy and structure. This is theorised as 'medical habitus'. The concept of medical habitus suggests that junior doctors are learning more about and how to navigate within medical culture through their professional development than previously thought.
This thesis develops the concept of medical habitus, which is developed in the ‘hothouse’ effect in the first years of junior doctor practice in a hospital. The argument is that this knowledge could also be usefully incorporated into an explicit professionally orientated program of teaching to ease the transitions of medical interns to fully registered medical practitioners. At the same time, however, it is recognised that the experiences of junior doctors reflect the powerful hierarchies of the medical field, and as such, they will be difficult to challenge and change, as this research demonstrates.