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Unmasking Identity

One of the most important tasks of medical education is the concept of Professional Identity Formation (PIF). This embodies what it means to “think, act and feel” like a physician. As we journey across the landscape of medical education, what we feel internally — what we struggle with — and what we project externally can be at odds, sometimes requiring us to “mask” our true selves. This identity dissonance can hinder the development of a healthy sense of professional identity.

The Unmasking Project encourages medical students, professionals and community members to use the visual medium of mask-making to examine core elements of true (inner) and projected (outer) selves as a means to develop an authentic professional identity.

Mark Stephens, MD, explores these ideas through mask-making workshops throughout the country. View a gallery of some of the masks that have been created, or submit your own.

A mask depicting a sun over a field of wheat painted on it.