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Shared ambiguity but different experiences and demands among dental students: a gender perspective
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine.
2011 (English)In: Qualitative Research in Psychology, Vol. 8, no 1, 1-25 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study explores how dental students experience their clinical semesters from a gender perspective.

Twelve students (seven women and five men) and three teachers (two women and one man) at the Umeå dentistry programme participated in semi-structured interviews that were analysed with Grounded Theory methodology.

The model we propose consists of the core category Experiencing ambiguity and the three categories Experiencing pressure and stress, Assessing your own performance, and Passing through the eye of the needle and also includes four subcategories. At the core of our findings lies ambiguity, captured in the student dilemmas What’s enough/When’s enough. The answers to these dilemmas are further complicated by the gendered dimension and the dimension of unequal treatment, which provide students with different and contradicting sets of rules and roles. A comparison with recent findings from the U.S. shows that their experiences are not unique.

Our Experiencing ambiguity model constitutes a platform for future research on how students experience clinical education, as well as potential predictors and consequences in relation to performance and well-being.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group , 2011. Vol. 8, no 1, 1-25 p.
Keyword [en]
dental students, gender perspective, psychosocial workk environment, grounded theory, ambiguity, control
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-22842DOI: 10.1080/14780880902874231OAI: diva2:218290
Available from: 2009-05-19 Created: 2009-05-19 Last updated: 2011-05-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Gendered experiences of work environment: A study of stress and ambiguity among dental students in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gendered experiences of work environment: A study of stress and ambiguity among dental students in Sweden
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Könade upplevelser av arbetsmiljö :  En studie av stress och ambiguitet bland tandläkarstudenter i Sverige     
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores how dental students experience their education. We aim to generate ways to understand which elements relate to the students’ experience based on current theories and models regarding the quality of working life and gender (and) power relations.  

Methods Twelve interviews with Umeå dental students in their clinical semesters were analysed with a Grounded Theory (GT) as well as a content analysis approach. A web-survey was sent to all clinical dental students in Sweden (P ≈ 805) with a response rate of 40% (p = 322). The quantitative methods included structural equation modelling and cluster analysis.

Results The GT analysis resulted in the core category “Experiencing ambiguity,” that captured the student’s role-ambiguity. Central categories focused on perceived stress and performance assessment in relation to ambiguous inner and outer demands. The content analysis resulted in three categories: “Notions of inequalities,” “Gendering,” and “The student position.” These categories present the ways groups of students are constructed in relation to the student/dentist norm and social gender relations, and how women and men of foreign descent risk subordination and stereotyping. The SEM-model contained psychosocial work environment, tolerance for ambiguity, perceived stress, and student satisfaction. Work environment influenced both perceived stress and satisfaction, and stood for almost all of the explained variance in perceived stress for women, indicating that women are constructed as co-responsible for the work environment. About half of the variance for the men was explained by tolerance for ambiguity, indicating that the feeling of uncertainty may lead to stress in men who include “being in control” in their gender identity. The cluster analysis resulted in a six-cluster solution ranging from “The fresh and positive” to “The worn critiques.” Psychosocial work environment again appeared to be the main factor. Gender also appears to be a factor as the gender distribution in the best as well as the two worst clusters differs from the population.

Conclusion Work environment stands out among the factors that relate to the students wellbeing and satisfaction, but the student group is heterogeneous and the ways students perceive their work environment relate to different processes and experiences. We suggest that the ways gender and ethnicity appear to be constructed in relation to the sociocultural gender power relations and the (traditional) medical hierarchy could be of importance for how the students’ experience their psychosocial work environment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2011. 43 p.
dental students, Swedish dental education, work and organisational theories, gender power relations, ambiguity, perceived stress, satisfaction, grounded theory, content analysis, SEM, cluster analysis, tandläkarstudenter, svensk tandläkarutbildning, arbets- och organisations teorier, genus och makt relationer, ambiguitet, upplevd stress, nöjdhet, grundad teori, innehållsanalys, SEM, kluster analys
National Category
Applied Psychology
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-40734 (URN)978-91-7459-162-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-03-25, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 09:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2011-03-11 Created: 2011-03-08 Last updated: 2011-03-11Bibliographically approved

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Schéle, IngridHedman, LeifHammarström, Anne
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