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  • 2020WhybrowPhD

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Military healthcare professionals’ experience of transitioning into civilian employment: a heuristic inquiry

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Dean Whybrow
Publication date2020
Number of pages180
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Introduction: The aim of the thesis was to gain greater insight into how military healthcare professionals experience the transition into a civilian work role informed by the author’s and other people’s experience of transitioning.

Methods: Heuristic Inquiry was selected as an approach because it accounted for the researcher’s experience as a veteran to be included in the study as an insider researcher. Both the researcher’s diary and participant interviews (n = 10) were subject to thematic analysis. Following a period of reflection and illumination, a final creative synthesis of the researcher’s
understanding of the experience of transition from a military to a civilian work role was

Findings: The themes were about the tipping point for leaving, adjustment to a new role and progression in the new place of work. The process of transition was challenging, involving a triple whammy of uncertainty about leaving, insecurity in a new job and change of identity. Most people had adjusted to this and identified a niche for themselves in which they had the potential to flourish.

Discussion: Veterans who had served a long career experienced a divergence of values and skills away from the needs of the military service leading to a tipping point for leaving. The triple whammy may be a risk factor for increased mental distress within the Transtheoretical Model when applied to a midlife career change.

Conclusion: Healthcare professionals are recommended to prioritise obtaining civilian qualifications and work experience during their military careers. The UK armed forces might reduce attrition by focussing upon potential leavers who felt their qualifications or skills were not sufficiently valued. Veterans affinity for teamwork could be fostered within civilian organisations in order to support a shift towards new organisational goals, identity and values.