Inter-professional small group learning: a case study of two pharmacist-facilitated groups in Scotland


  • Judy Wakeling NHS Education for Scotland
  • Julie Ferguson NHS Education for Scotland
  • David E Cunningham NHS Education for Scotland
  • Leon Zlotos NHS Education for Scotland
  • Ailsa Power NHS Education for Scotland


PBSGL, Pharmacy Education, CPD, Inter-Professional Learning



Practice-based small group learning (PBSGL) is a growing and popular method of CPD.  This paper reports on a pilot project in Scotland in which two interprofessional PBSGL groups were set up and facilitated by pharmacists – one group comprising pharmacists and GPs and the other comprising nurses, pharmacists and GPs. The groups met on approximately six occasions in 2013-14 and studied modules produced by NHS Education for Scotland.  


To explore how the groups functioned and to see whether participants found this a useful method of fulfilling their professional development needs.


Focus groups and interviews were used to capture in-depth experiences using the methods of grounded theory.


Sixteen participants took part in either a focus group or interview, including the two pharmacist facilitators of the groups.  Introducing an inter-professional element to PBSGL was perceived to enhance learning; different professions brought unique and valuable experience to the group.  The enthusiasm and skills of the pharmacist facilitators were key factors in the success of the groups as were the selection of appropriate modules and the belief in the value of interprofessional learning (IPL).  A few participants found the group size (sometimes 10+) too large.  Both the group with GPs and the one without functioned well, but it was considered by some that having at least one GP present can enhance the learning although too many GPs might hinder some participants from contributing fully.


The learning achieved in these two PBSGL groups was enhanced by the mix of professions involved.  Longitudinal studies are needed in order to determine the factors that influence sustained involvement in PBSGL in general and how these factors may be similar or different in relation to IPL groups.

Author Biographies

Judy Wakeling, NHS Education for Scotland

Research Fellow


Julie Ferguson, NHS Education for Scotland

Research and Education Officer


David E Cunningham, NHS Education for Scotland

General Practice Associate Adviser

GP section

Leon Zlotos, NHS Education for Scotland

Pharmacy Education Co-ordinator


Ailsa Power, NHS Education for Scotland

Associate Director



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Research Article