Developing Learning Professionals

Volume 7 of the series Professional and Practice-based Learning pp 201-213


Promoting Professional Learning: Individual and Institutional Practices and Imperatives

  • Amanda HendersonAffiliated withQueensland HealthSchool of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University Email author 

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The presentations throughout the chapters of this book emphasise the importance of structured and guided support for students to maximise the value of their learning through interactions with experts in the field. Through the explorations undertaken across the different contexts of practice represented in these chapters, namely, physiotherapy, midwifery, medicine, nursing, dentistry, human services, aged-care and rural settings, it becomes apparent that the authentic nature that these situations present means they promote and support learning as a personally directed and deliberate act, although not always as others intend. The unpredictable nature of this learning requires a distinct approach to understanding learning within the real world of practice. The alternate approach emphasised within these chapters largely relies on the relations among student, the clinician and the organisational context. The approach and the relationships among these contingent factors are what constitute the student-learning experience. This experience has three dimensions. First are the perceived priorities of the student that act as a shaping lens through which they identify and locate learning opportunities. Second is the orientation and the understanding of the clinicians with whom they work and who sequence and distribute opportunities and also possess distinct perceptions of their role in supporting student learning. Third is the dialogue and shared commitment to learning between industry and academia that directly impact on the values embedded within the distinct organisational practices of these two institutions that influence student learning. All three factors are instrumental in shaping student learning and they need to be effectively addressed to maximise the learning opportunities that are afforded through practice situations. Taking these ideas forward, the following sections capture a set of key conditions for how the promotion of professional learning might best progress. The perspective here is from a healthcare practitioner who has concerns for the effective development of novice practitioners and the ongoing development of healthcare workers as they face changing requirements for work and emerging workplace challenges.