The entrance of newly qualified medical specialists into daily practice is considered to be a stressful period in which curriculum support is absent. Although engaging in both personal and professional learning and development activities is recognized fundamental for lifelong professional competence, research on medical professionals' entrance into practice is scarce. This research aims to contribute to the framework of medical professionals' informal learning and outlines the results of an exploratory study on the nature of learning in daily practice beyond postgraduate training. Eleven newly qualified physicians from different specialized backgrounds participated in a phenomenographic study, using a critical incident method and a grounded theory approach. Results demonstrated that learning in the workplace is, to a large extent, informal and associated with a variety of learning experiences. Analysis shows that experiences related to diagnostics and treatments are important sources for learning. Furthermore, incidents related to communication, changing roles, policy and organization offer learning opportunities, and therefore categorized as learning experiences. A broad range of learning activities are identified in dealing with these learning experiences. More specifically, actively engaging in actions and interactions, especially with colleagues of the same specialty, are the most mentioned. Observing others, consulting written sources, and recognizing uncertainties, are also referred to as learning activities. In the study, interaction, solely or combined with other learning activities, are deemed as very important by specialists in the initial entrance into practice. These insights can be used to develop workplace structures to support the entrance into practice following postgraduate training.
- Critical incident analysis
- Informal workplace learning
- Learning process
- Newly qualified medical specialists