Roles, tasks and educational functions of postgraduate programme directors: a qualitative study

Frydén, Hanna; Ponzer, Sari; Heikkilä, Kristiina; Kihlström, Lars; Nordquist, Jonas
October 2015
Postgraduate Medical Journal;Oct2015, Vol. 91 Issue 1080, p588
Academic Journal
journal article
Background: A programme director is often required to organise postgraduate medical education. This leadership role can include educational as well as managerial duties. Only a few published studies have explored programme directors' own perceptions of their role. There is a need to explore the use of theoretical frameworks to improve the understanding of educational roles.Objective: To explore programme directors' own perceptions of their role in terms of tasks and functions, and to relate these roles to the theoretical framework developed by Bolman and Deal.Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 programme directors between February and August 2013. The data were subjected to content analysis using a deductive approach.Results: The various roles and tasks included by participants in their perceptions of their work could be categorised within the framework of functions described by Bolman and Deal. These included: structuring the education (structural function); supporting individuals and handling relations (human resource function); negotiating between different interests (political function); and influencing the culture at the departmental level (symbolic function). The functions most often emphasised by participants were the structural and human resource functions. Some tasks involved several functions which varied over time.Conclusions: Programme directors' own perceptions of their roles, tasks and functions varied widely. The theoretical framework of Bolman and Deal might be helpful when explaining and developing these roles.


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