Using communities of practice as a lens for exploring experiential pharmacy learning in general practice: Are communities of practice the way forward in changing the training culture in pharmacy?

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Background: Currently, there is little experiential learning in general practice (GP) during UK undergraduate and postgraduate pharmacy education and training.
Aim: To apply educational theories to explore pharmacy stakeholders’ perceptions of placements in general practice and contribute to the development of a model of experiential learning for pharmacy.
Methods: Qualitative, semi-structured interviews, conducted as part of two studies exploring experiential learning in general practice, with learners and their GP based supervisors. Interviews explored experiences of learning and practice, and what aided or hindered this. An abductive approach to analysis combined inductive coding with deductive, theory-driven interpretation using Lave and Wenger’s concept of “Communities of Practice”.
Results: Forty-four interviews were conducted, with learners and placement supervisors. Participants valued placements for providing authentic patient-facing learning experiences in the workplace, facilitated through legitimate peripheral participation by supervisors and supported by the use of pre- and de-briefing. Learners benefitted from support from their supervisor(s) and other staff during their day-to-day learning (informal learning), whilst also having protected time with their supervisors to discuss learning needs or go through workplace-based assessments (formal learning). Lack of clarity regarding which and how competencies should be assessed / demonstrated in general practice challenged monitoring progress from peripheral to full participation.
Findings suggest that GP placements provide opportunities for learning about the patient journey between care settings; to work effectively with multidisciplinary teams; and consolidation and application of consultation / communication skills learning.
Conclusions: The learning culture of GP supports learners’ development, providing time and opportunities for meaningful and authentic workplace learning, with healthcare professionals acting as supervisors and mentors. These findings can usefully inform implementation of meaningful learning opportunities in primary and secondary care for those involved in pharmacy education and training.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2022