Professional identity formation and transformation across the life span

Muriel J. Bebeau, Verna E. Monson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

31 Scopus citations


Examining the foundational elements of professional identity formation professional identity formation and its relation to unmet health needs in society is at a critical juncture. Professions today are under assault from multiple sources that weaken or undermine the individual’s or the collective profession’s commitment to the profession’s public purposes. This chapter draws together evidence from multiple sources that support constructivists’ theoretical understanding of a developmental continuum of identity that proceeds from self-interest and concreteness of thought to more other-oriented and abstract ways of making sense of the self (Kegan, 1982, The evolving self. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Blasi, 1984, in W. M. Kurtines & J. L. Gewirtz (Eds.), Morality, moral behavior, and moral development (pp. 129-139). New York: Wiley). At more advanced levels of professional identity formation, the exemplary professional’s personal and moral values are fully integrated and consistent across context and situation. They are able to articulate the public duties of the profession, integrate them with personal value frameworks, and regularly and consistently engage in socially responsible actions. The identity of such exemplary professionals is contrasted with the identities of entering students, entering professionals, and professionals who have been disciplined by a licensing board. Methods are suggested for supporting learning and improving commitment to professional values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLearning Trajectories, Innovation and Identity for Professional Development
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9789400717244
ISBN (Print)9789400717237
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


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