The Thistle and the Maple Leaf: Practice-Based Small-Group Learning in Canada and Scotland

  • Heather ArmsonEmail author
  • Ronald MacVicar


Drs. MacVicar and Armson describe the Practice-Based Small-Group Learning (PBSGL) programme, an international programme for facilitating discussions between clinician peers that focus on real problems in practice and the challenge of integrating evidence-based care with the uncertain problems that patients present. They review the development of the programme in the 1980s in Canada and the collaboration with Scotland starting in 2002, highlighting the programme’s theoretical underpinnings in reflective practice and practice-based learning. An overview of key programme attributes includes descriptions of the small group process, the role of trained facilitators, the use of educational modules as group discussion content, the production of the educational modules, and the development of communities of practice that sustain the groups. The authors review the several evaluations of PBSGL in both Canada and Scotland and conclude with a discussion of research efforts undertaken to assess PBSGL’s impact on clinician practice.


National Health Service Family Physician Continue Medical Education Continue Professional Development Practice Change 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.NHS Education for ScotlandCentre for Health ScienceInvernessUK

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