Collaborators as a key to survival: an ethnographic study on newly graduated doctors' collaboration with colleagues

Tine Lass Klitgaard*, Diana Stentoft, Nicolaj Johansson, Mette Grønkjær, Susanne Backman Nøhr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

24 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Newly graduated doctors find their first months of practice challenging and overwhelming. As the newly graduated doctors need help to survive this period, collaborators such as peers, senior doctors, registered nurses and other junior doctors are crucial. However, little is known about what characterise these collaborations, and how much is at stake when newly graduated doctors are striving to establish and maintain them. This study aims to describe and explore the collaborations in depth from the newly graduated doctors' point of view.

METHODS: We conducted 135 h of participant observations among newly graduated doctors (n = 11), where the doctors were observed throughout their working hours at various times of the day and the week. Furthermore, six semi-structured interviews (four group interviews and two individual) were carried out. The data was analysed thematically.

RESULTS: Newly graduated doctors consulted different collaborators (peers, senior doctors, registered nurses, and other junior doctors) dependent on the challenge at hand, and they used different strategies to get help and secure good relationships with their collaborators: 1) displaying competence; 2) appearing humble; and 3) playing the game. Their use of different strategies shows how they are committed to engage in these collaborations, and how much is at stake.

CONCLUSIONS: Newly graduated doctors rely on building relationships with different collaborators in order to survive their first months of practice. We argue that the collaboration with peer NGDs and registered nurses has not received the attention it deserves when working with the transition from medical school. We highlight how it is important to focus on these and other collaborators and discuss different work-agendas, mutual expectations, and interdependence. This could be addressed in the introduction period and be one way to ensure a better learning environment and a respectful interprofessional culture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number604
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).


  • Humans
  • Medical Staff, Hospital
  • Physicians
  • Ethnography
  • Postgraduate medical education
  • Collaboration
  • Interprofessional collaboration
  • Hospital organisation
  • Newly graduated doctors


Dive into the research topics of 'Collaborators as a key to survival: an ethnographic study on newly graduated doctors' collaboration with colleagues'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this