ABP Award for Excellence Win for Work Psychology Group’s Emma Morley

Work Psychology Group (WPG) is delighted to announce that Senior Consultant, Emma Morley, has won an Association for Business Psychology (ABP) Award for Excellence in Using Psychology for Social Impact.

The award was in recognition for Emma’s work leading a WPG team in partnership with the British Medical Association (BMA) to develop a new tool to help medical students and junior doctors make informed decisions regarding their choice of medical specialty.

Specialty explorer was developed recognising the clear link between high person-job fit and job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and job performance (Biswas & Bhatnagar, 2013). Supporting medical students and junior doctors with making an informed decision – around what is likely to be an intensive and lifelong commitment – is vital in the current climate.

The BMA wanted to provide a tool that reflects recent developments in the profession. This needed to be an easy-to-use, engaging, mobile-enabled, future-focussed tool, which could be easily updated as the profession evolves (for example, in the case of changes to the medical profession or the recognition of a new medical specialty). WPG identified that a self-report, on-demand tool, based on a solid evidence-base, would best help doctors to consider their preferences and provide information about which specialities aligned with these preferences.

Emma Morley said: ‘We were delighted to be approached by the BMA to support them with the development of Specialty explorer, which allowed us to draw upon our broad ranging experience of working within the medical sector.

Throughout the development of the tool, many doctors reported that it was challenging to obtain enough knowledge about career options for them to feel they were making an informed choice about medical specialty. And some indicated that they, or their colleagues, later regretted the specialty they chose.

The intended impact of Specialty explorer is to provide doctors with further insight and direct them to resources to support them in making an informed career choice; we’re delighted to have won the ABP award for Excellence in Using Psychology for Social Impact for this important piece of work to support our future medical workforce in making informed career choices.’

Dr Vikki Smith, Specialist education adviser at the BMA, commissioned the work and said: ‘Having identified what we wanted to achieve with Specialty explorer, it was great to work with Emma and the team at WPG. They readily grasped what we needed and were able to apply their in-depth knowledge and understanding of working as a clinician in the UK to the process and tool development.

As a result, we have a tool that is intuitive, quick to use and is able to help early career medics plan their way forward by making sense of the myriad specialities that could be open to them. Use of the tool has surpassed expectations. Feedback from users tells us that it is identifying options that were previously unknown to them, opening up possibilities going forward.’

WPG took a multi-method approach to development, including data collection through a review of academic and grey literature, one-to-one interviews with doctors and consultation with a careers advisor who had over 20 years’ experience working in the medical arena.

Specialty explorer asks users about their preferences with regards to each of the characteristics within the model, as well as the strength of each preference. This information is used to compare the user’s preferences with the characteristics of each of the 65 medical specialties, to support the user in considering how different medical specialties are aligned with their preferences, and to provide further sources of information and career guidance.

Critically, Specialty explorer can be used multiple times throughout training as a doctor learns more about their working preferences and possibly changes their preferences regarding working arrangements.

Specialty explorer launched earlier this year and has already been used by over 5000 medical students and junior doctors. Initial feedback has been positive, with a 96% rating of three stars or above (out of five).

Building on the successful launch of Specialty explorer WPG have started to investigate with the BMA what the next steps might be for the underpinning research and tool itself. Current lines of enquiry include supporting medics at key career transition points so they are able to stay in the health sector and develop their career even if their chosen career path is not standard.