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My Manchester Story

Tim McKenna-Buchanan and Carly Kwiecien

by Lauren Hughes | Jun 06, 2019
Tim McKenna-Buchanan and Carly Kwecien

Tim McKenna-Buchanan, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Carly Kwiecien ’19 

Tim: “We are interviewing MU pharmacy students about their socialization experiences, especially professionalism, and communication so how they learn how to communicate as a professional.”

“How long have you been working on this?”

Carly: “It’s been a long process. We started in the spring semester, February or March. We had to do a lot of stuff before we started the research: we had to get the proposal approved by IRB, so that’s just to start research, we had to make a consent form, we had to do our interview questions and start those from scratch, and we had to contact people at the pharmacy school. We had a main contact person to figure out how we wanted to go about this and get people’s attention to participate.”

Tim: “We started narrowing down topics on what we wanted to do, and then everything Carly said. Then we launched full-force in the summer. The first week after graduation we did our first interview, and since then we’ve been…”

Carly: “On the go.”

“Why did you decide on the topic of professionalism?”

Carly: “Well, Tim has some background in socialization, so I got some help in learning about that. Then, we just thought it would be interesting to learn more about the Pharmacy Program because I don’t know much about it, so it’s kind of an exciting learning experience for us, too.”

“What results have you found?”

Carly: “We had to interview 20 people, and I had to transcribe all those interviews. Then we downloaded this qualitative data analysis program on my computer called NVivo, so what I did was put the transcriptions into this program, and then I did what’s called initial coding, where I highlight words that I think are interesting or themes that I think are going to pop up a lot in the interviews. So that’s where you get your results from. Then we had to do focus coding, so that’s when we get rid of the stuff that we realize, ‘Oh, only one person said this,’ so we can get rid of that and focus more on the bigger themes or details. I guess right now we’re still in that process, so we don’t know the results exactly. The Manchester Pharmacy Program is a professional program, and we’re learning that a lot of the students say they’re learning about professionalism but there’s not a written definition, so some of it is kind of unwritten rules. And a lot of them learn in their ‘Introduction to Pharmacy’ class or communications class, about how to be professional, how to act, dress, all kinds of stuff, and a lot of them say, ‘I don’t think I need to take this’ but a lot of the other people do. So a lot of them are saying ‘Oh, it’s for them but not for me.’ We’re just picking up on themes along the professionalism line and how its complicated, but then we’re also learning about the professor-student relationships and how that impacts the socialization process.”

Tim: “There are some unwritten rules about professionalism, so we need to figure out what are those unwritten or informal rules are that students really need to know about? A lot of what we found is that they learn a lot about professionalism in the beginning when they’re first starting the program, and then it’s brought up continuously but it’s like this thing you should already know. Then they learn about it when someone makes a mistake, when someone’s called out for not being professional and they get talked to about it. So, to some extent it’s formalized, but through the years it’s lost in translation almost.”

Carly: “Also, sometimes those rules are only applied in certain circumstances and not applied to everyone. So that’s kind of what we’re focusing on, so maybe eventually we could use this data to help the Pharmacy Program improve teaching professionalism.”

Tim: “The main goal is to go to a conference, but depending on what we find, it could be published. We could pursue that, but that’s kind of like a next-on-the-list thing depending on what we get through this summer.”

Carly: “It should be about 25-30 pages when we’re done, so for now we’re just focusing on one section at a time.”