A social learning perspective on the development of doctors in the UK National Health Service

Soc Sci Med. 2012 Nov;75(9):1617-24. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.06.014. Epub 2012 Jul 16.


How best to develop doctors is a problem for many healthcare systems. The current trend towards competence-based models, especially in UK postgraduate medical education, appears to neglect lessons emerging from social learning theories in the workplace. However, social learning itself, especially communities of practice (CoP), also has shortcomings because it needs to take into account broader social, economic and political factors. Our contribution is to show how an extended version of CoP might shed light on the education and development of doctors by drawing on data from a qualitative interview study of participants' experiences of three eras of postgraduate medical education. We also make recommendations for further research and practice in this critical field of healthcare.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Competency-Based Education*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Educational
  • Psychological Theory
  • Qualitative Research
  • State Medicine
  • United Kingdom