Professional Learning in the Ambulance Service

  • Morten SommerEmail author
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Professional ongoing learning is becoming recognised as being as important as the initial preparation for occupational practice. Yet, how ongoing learning in professions can be organised and enacted in ways that effectively addresses the changing requirements of work has become a vexed issue. One consideration that is attracting growing interest and gaining credibility is for much of this ongoing development to occur through and be part of everyday work activities and practices, albeit these experiences being augmented by educational interventions (when required). Ambulance personnel provide an example of need to engage in continuous learning throughout their working lives, thus highlighting the importance of identifying how this learning can best be promoted. This chapter describes and discusses a study examining professional learning in the ambulance service. The findings are based on participant observation, where the aim was to be informed by what the data suggests rather than prescriptive accounts of how ambulance personnel should learn in their workplace and work practice. The findings demonstrate that both learning through practice and learning through educational activities are crucial for ambulance personnel’s professional learning . These two kinds of experiences fulfil different learning needs, and are held to be complementary. In addition, the study supports the need to use a combined approach to learning (i.e. combining the individual cognitive approach and contributions from the social world) when explaining learning related to professional practice and work. In all, the case made across this chapter suggest that this combined approach to learning can enhance our understanding of workplace learning and that an emphasis on learning both through practice and through educational activities can potentially improve the process of continuous learning throughout individuals’ working lives.


Ambulance service Experience-sharing Feedback Guidance Learning as acquisition Learning as participation Learning experiences Learning through educational activities Learning through practice Occasional discussions Professional learning Training 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Industrial Economics, Risk Management and Planning, Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversity of StavengerStavengerNorway

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