Mixing Methods and Disciplines: Surveys and Qualitative Analysis of Medical Television Programs

Abstract

Between 2010 and 2011, I ran two projects in undergraduate medicine, nursing, and forensic sciences university departments, asking students to complete surveys about their television viewing and their perspectives on how realistic—or not—those shows were. I was intrigued to learn whether students watch shows specific to their profession, and how their attitudes to the programs may influence the development of their own professional identity. Do medical students watch medical television programs, and if so, do they feel the programs offer realistic depictions of the medical world? How do they perceive different characters as potential role models in medical professionalism in their own careers? Working with other researchers (teachers and clinicians) in medicine, nursing, and forensic sciences, I conducted two projects to answer these and similar questions across the three areas of study. We ran surveys in university undergraduate medical, nursing, and forensic science classes. The surveys included open-ended questions, and we supplemented the survey quantitative and qualitative data with textual analysis of the television shows themselves. This case study discusses some of the background and considerations about conducting this research, particularly about bringing multiple researchers, methods, and topics together into one cohesive line of work.

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