Context: The study of expertise in medical education has a long history of success. Researchers have identified and elaborated on many dimensions of expert performance. In part, this success has derived from researchers' ability to effectively isolate the dimensions and explore each separately. Although this deconstruction of the expert has been successful, the need to recombine the dimensions of expertise as part of an integrated construct of expert practice has recently become an increasingly evident imperative in health professions education.
Methods: The aims of this paper are first to explore dimensions of expert practice as they are expressed in the expertise literature; secondly, to describe more recent programmes of research that have tried to elaborate on how experts integrate these various dimensions during daily practice, and, finally, to examine the potential implications of research exploring how experts integrate their own knowledge and skills with the affordances of the environment in which they work.
Results and conclusions: There are both challenges and opportunities in elaborating an integrated discourse on expertise. Exploring directions for research related to this integrated construction of the practising expert may add an important dimension to our educational repertoire.
© Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2011.