Context: The transition to clinical training within medical school is often seen as a struggle and students remain in distress despite numerous efforts to minimise threats. Efforts to change this may be misdirected if they are based on narrow conceptualisations of transitions. The authors conducted a scoping review to explore existing conceptual perspectives regarding the transition within medical school from pre-clinical training to clinical training to suggest a research agenda and practical implications. Methods: Between October 2017 and February 2018 the authors searched PubMed, MEDLINE, ERIC, PsycINFO, Web of Science and CINAHL for English language literature with no date limits and retrieved 1582 articles; 46 were included in this review. Two reviewers independently screened articles and extracted data. Data were then charted, analysed and discussed with the research team. Results: The transition to clinical training was often described negatively as ‘difficult’, ‘a problem’ and ‘a struggle’. Our analysis found that researchers in medical education conducted studies on the transition to clinical training from three conceptual perspectives: educational; social, and developmental. Most research approached the transition to clinical training as a problem to be addressed from an educational perspective through transition to clerkship courses and curriculum innovations. Some research was conducted from a social perspective, focusing on building relationships. Regarding development, authors found a few articles highlighting opportunities for personal and professional development by nurturing transferrable learning strategies and reflection. Conclusions: This review provides an empirical base on which future research can be built to better understand and support medical students’ ability to navigate change. Finding new perspectives to approach the transition to clinical training could allow researchers to look beyond preparing students for struggles.