Preparing for leadership in General Practice: a qualitative exploration of how GP trainees learn about leadership

John W. Nicol (Lead / Corresponding author), Lisi J. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The recent rise to prominence of healthcare leadership worldwide has prompted those involved in medical education to consider how to facilitate learning to lead effectively. Research has focused on formal curriculum activities. Curricular theory suggests that trainee doctors may also learn through the informal curriculum but there is a lack of medical education literature on this. We aimed to explore how GP trainees learn about leadership in their GP training practices. Epistemologically grounded in social constructionism, this research involved 15 semi-structured interviews with GP trainees about to complete their training. Interviews were conducted using an online video conferencing method, audio-taped, transcribed and analysed using thematic framework analysis. We identified three learning processes contributing to leadership development; evaluating leadership, formulating views on leadership and constructing a personal leadership identity. Other factors operating within the informal curriculum included leadership terminology, and the quality of relationships and networks. Paradoxically, a role model’s fallibility could positively influence leadership learning. Based on our findings, we present a model for the informal leadership learning process. This may enhance the facilitation of leadership learning by trainers and the wider clinical team, and positively influence the delivery and content of formal leadership courses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-335
Number of pages9
JournalEducation for Primary Care
Issue number6
Early online date22 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • curriculum
  • formal
  • General Practice
  • GP trainees
  • informal
  • Leadership
  • learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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