Exploring clinical learning environments for postgraduate medical education and training

After graduation from medical school, doctors continue to train under the supervision, for several years, until they are ready to practice independently. These trainee doctors learn while they work, providing care to patients. Their working environments, therefore, need to support learning. It is difficult for those charged with the training of doctors to plan clinical environments for learning, because learning is not the only thing happening in those settings, and is not the primary focus.
Currently there is a lot of change happening in clinical environments. Patients have shorter hospital stays but are often more unwell than in the past. New working time regulations mean that trainees are spending less time at work. Healthcare is becoming more expensive but there are fewer resources available to pay for it. Trainees learn from work, but if they have too much work or not the right kind of work this may impede learning. Researching how learning happens in clinical environments and how we can support it better requires us to use approaches which can deal with the complexity of the environment.
We propose to conduct three studies which will explore clinical learning environments and, recognising their complexity, produce guidance and recommendations for how high quality learning environments can be designed. Our three studies look at this issue from different angles. One will examine the literature and distill down existing published evidence, the second will aim to achieve consensus between those who work in clinical environments, senior doctors, trainees, nurses, managers and others, in regard to strengths, weaknesses and the prioritisation of areas for improvement in the Irish context. Our third study will examine the different activities that happen in clinical settings and the ways in which their inter-relationships can provide barriers to and opportunities for learning.

Award Date
07 November 2014
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Deirdre Bennett
Host Institution
University College Cork
Medical Education Research Grant