Multi-level learning in public healthcare medical teams: the role of the social environment

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study explores how individual, dyad and team levels of learning interact in public healthcare medical teams. Design/methodology/approach: A single interpretive case study is carried out in the public Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland, involving three rounds of semi-structured interviews with non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs), supported by relevant professional documentation and researcher log entries. Findings: An experience hierarchy, interpersonal relationships and social dynamics form the backdrop to learning interactions within public healthcare medical teams. Individual and team learning primarily occur in informal settings where interpreting and developing understanding takes place either in dyads, small groups or with the whole team. NCHD learning may vary depending on how effectively they build interpersonal relationships, take advantage of informal learning opportunities and manage the social dynamics within their team. Willingness and confidence to share insights and asking questions are triggers for individual and team learning. Research limitations/implications: As a single case study focused on the HSE NCHD individual and team learning experience, this research study represents a relatively small exploration of individual and team learning interplay in the public healthcare medical team environment. The development of learning theory in this domain presents an intriguing avenue of further research, including observation of interactions within a team. Practical implications: The findings have practical relevance to those who are interested in the effectiveness of post-graduate/ NCHD learning in the public healthcare system. Interpersonal relationships and social norms play strong roles in how interaction and learning occurs in a team. These findings highlight the challenge of ensuring consistent quality across individual NCHDs or across hospital sites when training is heavily influenced by the approach of senior colleagues/ consultants to their more junior colleagues and the degree to which they take an active interest in NCHD learning. Originality/value: The proposed learning framework is a key theoretical contribution, which draws upon the multi-levels of learning and provides greater insight into how individual, dyad and team learning interact in public healthcare medical teams when managing patient care. The findings have practical relevance in how to facilitate effective teamwork and learning interactions and for those who are interested in the consistency and quality of the training experience for NCHDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-105
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Health, Organisation and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 05 Feb 2021


  • Healthcare management
  • Individual learning
  • Medical teams
  • Team learning


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