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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 52  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17

Workplace learning

Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University, Canada

Correspondence Address:
D Delva
Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Delva D. Workplace learning. J Postgrad Med 2006;52:17

How to cite this URL:
Delva D. Workplace learning. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2006 [cited 2023 Mar 26];52:17. Available from:

Learning is affected by many factors: approaches to learning, personal factors, opportunities for learning and the learning environment. The clinical environment is the appropriate place for clinical learning and until recently clinical training was primarily based on the apprenticeship model. Current approaches to clinical training recognize that a balance between clinical work and learning are essential for reflective practice.[1] With increasing reports of many factors that affect the learning environment, medical education in developed countries has addressed issues regarding hours at work, service/education balance and intimidation and harassment. Policies that are put into place address these issues; however, they may not necessarily lead to full implementation. In this issue, Anani et al have initiated an important investigation of these factors in a developing country in an effort to begin addressing the learning environment of Pakistani medical residents.[2] In their study, the residents uniformly indicate a desire for fewer hours devoted to clinical work and more for learning and "non-clinical" activities at work. Non-clinical activities are defined as eating and sleeping, activities that are essential for survival!

Although differences between specialty groups will be useful for program directors, it is interesting that most residents found either routine clinical rounds or seminars and lectures most valuable for learning. Faculty were least likely to be viewed as important for learning. This brings into question the expectations of the learners and faculty on their roles or perhaps lack of faculty development and support for teaching.

The workplace environment affects learning, but more importantly the perception of the environment affects how learners approach their learning.[3] When learners perceive that they are supported and have choice and independence and teachers are receptive to their ideas, they adopt improved approaches to learning.[4] Clearly, intimidation and harassment are not associated with a supportive learning climate. Fortunately there appears to be little perception of mistreatment in this group of residents. Explanations for this may be related to a culture that is respectful or alternatively to an acceptance of the status quo and thus not appreciating the effect of some behaviors. Another possibility is raised by the lack of confidence in faculty as valuable for learning. If faculty are not present for teaching or not interested in teaching, there may be little opportunity for mistreatment beyond that of neglect. The authors are to be congratulated for beginning the process of evaluating the learning environment for residents in Pakistan. Without evaluation there can be no examination or change.

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1.Whitcomb ME. Redesigning clinical education: a major challenge for academic health centers. Acad Med 2005 80:615-6.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Avan BI, Raza SA, Khokhar S, Awan F, Sohail N, Rashid S, Hamza H. Residents' perceptions of work environment during their postgraduate medical training in Pakistan. J Postgrad Med 2006;52:11-6.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Kirby JR, Knapper CK, Evans CJ, Carty AE, Gadula C. Approaches to learning at work and workplace climate. Int J Training Dev 2003;7:31-52.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Delva MD, Kirby J, Schultz K, Godwin M. Assessing the Relationship of Learning Approaches to Workplace Climate in Clerkship and Residency. Acad Med 2004;79:1120-6.  Back to cited text no. 4    


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Online since 12th February '04
2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow