The wolf you feed: Challenging intraprofessional workplace-based education norms

Renée E. Stalmeijer*, Lara Varpio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Context: The trajectory towards becoming a medical professional is strongly situated within the clinical workplace. Through participatory engagement, medical trainees learn to address complex health care issues through collaboration with the interprofessional health care team. To help explain learning and teaching dynamics within the clinical workplace, many scholars have relied on socio-cultural learning theories. In the field of medical education, this research has largely adopted a limited interpretation of a crucial dimension within socio-cultural learning theory: the expert who guides the trainee into the community is almost exclusively from the same profession. We contend that this narrow interpretation is not necessary. This limited focus is one we choose to maintain—be that choice intentional or implicit. In this cross-cutting edge paper, we argue that choosing an interprofessional orientation towards workplace learning and guidance may better prepare medical trainees for their future role in health care practice. Methods: By applying Communities of Practice and Landscapes of Practice, and supported by empirical examples, we demonstrate how medical trainees are not solely on a trajectory towards the Community of Physician Practice (CoPP) but also on a trajectory towards various Landscapes of Healthcare Practice (LoHCP). We discuss some of the barriers present within health care organisations and professions that have likely inhibited adoption of the broader LoHCP perspective. We suggest three perspectives that might help to deliberately and meaningfully incorporate the interprofessional learning and teaching dynamic within the medical education continuum. Conclusion: Systematically incorporating Landscapes of Competence, Assessment, and Guidance in workplace-based education—in addition to our current intraprofessional approach—can better prepare medical trainees for their roles within the LoHCP. By advocating and researching this interprofessional perspective, we can embark on a journey towards fully harnessing and empowering the health care team within workplace-based education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)894-902
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Education
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


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