PC.20 Learning for and through Work in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: A Case of Study of Regular Doctor-Psychotherapist Sessions

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The environment of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) provides many opportunities to learn for and through work. This study analyses the role of confidential Doctor-Therapist (DT) group sessions in promoting junior doctors’ learning.


A case study with a multi method approach, including information gathering, contextual, a semi-structured questionnaire from doctors, and an open interview with the psychotherapist.


Doctors unanimously agreed that working in NICU is stressful, but provides many opportunities to learn for and through work. They distinguished between formal learning opportunities e.g. time specifically set aside for learning and informal opportunities i.e work itself and through discussions as a team. Informal learning opportunities scored higher than formal ones. All doctors commented positively on DT sessions as an opportunity to unburden themselves from stressful experiences. The sessions were not seen as learning opportunity, as they were not perceived as set learning time. However, on reflective notes, there were examples of how DT sessions helped respondents to learn important generic skills and provided some life long learning indirectly. In psychotherapist’s view, DT sessions encouraged doctors to see and understand other’s perspectives better by offering confidential space for discussion.


DT sessions promote some generic and unique skills as defined by RCPCH for long-term use. Doctors felt that DT group sessions helped to relieve their stress and hence enjoy work better. These meetings are an effective way to manage the emotional stress at work and promote conditions, which allow learning through and for work.

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