Sitting Comfortably? Exploring Asian Aspirations and Professional Identity
The dental profession has recently undergone a number of radical changes, most notably with the introduction of the dental contract, which debuted in April 2006. Such a dynamic shift has been met with mixed responses and questions are currently being raised surrounding the professional and personal values of newly qualified dentists (The Patients’ Association, 2008).
In turn, concerns are raised about levels of preparedness within higher education. As a community of educators, it is important for us to realise the ambitions of those we train to be professionals as we are somewhat responsible for instilling a sense of proficiency within them (Macfarlane, 2004). According to the higher education statistics agency, (HESA, 2006/07), predominantly large numbers of those studying to become dentists are of South Asian heritage and female. It is suggested that culture, in its broadest sense, has a significant impact upon their notion of professional identity.
Preliminary research is presented in this paper which highlights the aspirations of a sample group of dental students, from the South Asian community with respect to their profession. Initial findings reflect the discussions introduced by Bordieu (1984) on cultural capital and moreover its prevalent influence in terms of making professional choices.
Keywords: British-Asian Students, Professional Values, Cultural Identity, Higher Education
Dr. Deesha Chadha
Lecturer in Higher Education, King's Learning Institute, King's College London