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Jennifer Cleland

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Professor Jennifer Cleland
Assistant Dean, Assessment
Professor of Medical Education Research
Director, Medical Education Research and Scholarship Unit​
Research Programme: Medical Education Research​


Professor Jennifer Cleland is full professor and Director of the Medical Education Research and Scholarship Unit (MERSU) at LKCMedicine. 

Prof Cleland received her PhD in animal social behaviour from Queen’s University Belfast, UK (1993). She then trained and worked in industrial and clinical psychology, receiving her Masters in Occupational Psychology (1994; also Queen’s Belfast) and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Edinburgh, UK (2000). She then shifted focus to medical research and medical education, splitting her time between clinical work in Liaison Psychiatry, research, teaching and management. She became a full Professor in 2011, first holding a Personal Chair then as the recipient of the UK’s only Endowed Chair of Medical Education Research, the John Simpson Chair.​

Prof Cleland has published over 200 academic papers, many in top ranking journals in the field. Her global standing is recognised via: Adjunct Professorial roles across the UK, USA and Australia; numerous Memberships, Fellowships and Honorary Fellowships (e.g. Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh) and Editorial roles with internationally leading journals, including Medical Education. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association for Medical Education Europe (AMEE: 2019). 

Prof Cleland has vast leadership and management experience, gained through roles including Director of the Centre for Healthcare Education Research and Innovation (CHERI), University of Aberdeen, UK (2013-2020); Chair of the Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME; 2014-2018); Director of the Scottish Medical Education Research Consortium (SMERC; 2015-2020); Lead for the Association for Medical Education Europe (AMEE) Research Committee (2013-2018); and Chair of the Board of Management for Medical Education (2014-2018). She has served on the advisory panels of a number of funding bodies including Asthma UK. She was the medical education expert for the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research across UK higher education institutions (REF2021, Education).​

Research Interests

Prof Cleland is fascinated by individual, group, organisational and cultural influences on behaviour. Working within this overarching framework, she draws on diverse theories and methodologies to change thinking and practice in the fields of selection, performance and assessment, career progression and choices in medicine. Her broad training and experience enable her to work comfortably with different theories and across methodologies, from working with big data sets to planning and executing qualitative studies of culture and social learning.  

Prof Cleland is a firm believer in high-quality, important research which focuses on research questions which are pertinent to today’s education and clinical practice, but which also inform healthcare education strategy and policy. Related to this, her research is characterised by a high degree of interdisciplinarity. Prof Cleland has worked in partnership with specialists in such diverse fields as Health Economics, Medical Statistics, Language and Linguistics and Business. She enjoys working across professional boundaries, collaborating effectively with colleagues from medical schools, government agencies, postgraduate training providers and Colleges, and across many different medical specialties, including general surgery, anaesthetics, community medicine and respiratory medicine. 

Her current projects include, but are not limited to exploring why doctors retire early; relationship between early and later performance during surgical residency; social processes during team-based learning; influences on medical careers decision-making; optimising selection and assessment systems and processes​. 

Selected Publications

Scrimgeour, D.S.G., Cleland, J., Lee, A.J. & Brennan, P.A. (2019). Prediction of success at UK Specialty Board Examinations using the mandatory postgraduate UK surgical examination. BJS Open, 3(6):865-871. doi: 10.1002/bjs5.50212

Cleland, J. & Durning, S.J. (2019). Education and service: how theories can help in understanding tensionsMedical Education, 53: 42-55. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/medu.13738

Scrimgeour, D.S.G., Brennan, P.A., Griffiths, G., Lee, A.J., Smith, F.C.T. & Cleland, J. (2018). Does the Intercollegiate Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) examination predict 'on-the-job' performance during UK higher specialty surgical training? Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 100:669-675. doi: 10.1308/rcsann.2018.0153

Cleland, J., Hanson, M. & Patterson, F. (2018). Thinking of selection and widening access as complex and wicked problems. Medical Education, 1228-1239. doi: 10.1111/medu.13670

Hawick, L., Cleland, J. & Kitto, S. (2018). ‘I feel like I sleep here’: how space and place influence medical student experiences.  Medical Education, 52 (10): 1016-1027. doi: 10.1111/medu.13614

Cleland, J., Roberts, R., Kitto, S., Strand, P. & Johnston, P.J. (2018). Using paradox theory to discern responses to service-training tensions in general surgeryMedical Education, 52(3):288-301. doi: 10.1111/medu.13475

Cleland, J., Walker, K., Gale, M. & Nicol, L.J. (2016). Simulation-based education: Understanding the complexity of a surgical training “Boot Camp”Medical Education, 50(8):829–841. doi: 10.1111/medu.13064

Cleland, J., Johnston, P., Watson, V., Krucien, N. & Skatun, D. (2016). What do UK doctors-in-training value in a post?  A discrete choice experiment.  Medical Education, 50 (2); 189-202. doi: 10.1111/medu.12896

Patterson, F., Knight, A., Dowell, J., Nicholson, S. & Cleland, J. (2016). How effective are selection methods in medical education? A systematic review. Medical Education, 50 (1): 36-60. doi: 10.1111/medu.12817


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