Learning needs, preferred learning methods and learning challenges of first five general practitioners in NHS Scotland: a qualitative study

BMJ Open. 2021 May 13;11(5):e044859. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-044859.


Objectives: To identify the learning needs and preferred learning methods of First5 general practitioners (GPs) in National Health Service (NHS) Scotland.

Design: Qualitative research study using grounded theory methods. First5 GPs were interviewed in small focus groups or individual interviews in-person, or over the telephone depending on their preference.

Setting: General practice in NHS Scotland.

Participants: GPs, within the first 5 years of completion of GP training, who were working in NHS Scotland.

Results: Thirty-eight First5s were recruited to the study. Participants recognised that gaps in their GP training became apparent in independent practice. Some of this related to NHS appraisal and revalidation, and with the business of general practice. They were interested in learning from an older generation of GPs but perceived that preferred learning methods differed. First5 GPs were less reliant on reading journals to change their practice, preferring to find learning resources that allowed them to gain new knowledge quickly and easily. There were considerations about resilience and of the challenges of learning in remote and rural areas of NHS Scotland. This related to travel costs and time, and to accessibility of learning courses. Participants appreciated collective learning and commented about the logistics and costs of learning.

Conclusions: Preferred learning methods and learning resources differ with First5 GPs compared with those who have been in practice for some years. Learning providers need to recognise this and take these differences into account when planning and preparing learning in the future.

Keywords: medical education & training; organisation of health services; primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • General Practice*
  • General Practitioners*
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Scotland
  • State Medicine