Continuing medical education for physicians: Key factors contributing to learning and change

Date of Completion

January 2007


Health Sciences, Education|Education, Adult and Continuing




Using an adaptation of Kolb's (1984) Experiential Learning Theory (ELT), this study explored key factors that contributed to the learning and change process of physicians. The author worked with seven pediatrician physician instructors to help them improve the instructional strategies they employed in a lecture series for third-year medical students. These physician instructors engaged in a process that allowed them to (a) develop experience to support the solving of a genuine problem, (b) engage in deliberate practice, (c) reflect on their experience and practice using analogical reasoning, and (d) ultimately refine their mental model of effective instruction. Using qualitative research methods, the author reviewed interview transcripts and artifacts such as concept maps and session handouts used by the physician instructors. Findings indicate that change in the physician instructors' mental models was the keystone of changes to performance. Changes in mental models were supported by a combination of solving genuine problems, deliberate practice, and reflection via analogical reasoning. Changes in mental models were also facilitated by environmental factors in the form of support from the researcher in helping physicians make changes their instructional strategies. Implications for continuing medical education and suggestions for future research are also presented.^