Transition, training, and continuing professional development in the community pharmacy sector in NI
: a community of practice perspective

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education


This study explores professional learning in pharmacy and its impact on training, transition to independent practice and continuing professional development (CPD) in the community sector in Northern Ireland (NI), which is to date, an under researched area especially within these contexts. The study is embedded within sociocultural learning theory, using the frameworks of communities (Lave & Wenger, 1991) and landscapes of practice (Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner, 2015) to support the interpretation of pharmacist learning as participation and identity construction within the practices of the sector and the wider profession. The participants were 33 community pharmacists of varying experience and types of employment within the sector in NI. A qualitative research design was employed using semi-structured interviews to elicit participant experiences as they transitioned from novices to fuller membership of their communities of practice (COP). The study applies Rogoff’s Three Planes of Analysis (1995, 2008) - apprenticeship, guided participation and participatory appropriation - as an interpretive lens to guide the thematic analysis of the data, and to support participants’ accounts of the cultural, interpersonal and intrapersonal influences on their experiences.

The data highlighted that approaches to CPD within NI community pharmacy are limited in enabling participation in the types of professional learning activity that would fulfil the requirement that pharmacists are reflective, lifelong learners. The study suggests that traditional discourses of professional learning in pharmacy are limiting in how they prevent thinking about learning as occurring within and between professionals as well as within the practice of pharmacy as it is generated in the local setting. Instead, the argument within this research is for the consideration of sociocultural approaches that treat trainees as novice members of the professional COP and allow interpretation of learning as determined by their participation therein and based on the fluidity of identity construction as trainees become full members of professional communities that operate within dynamic and changing landscapes of practice.
Date of AwardJul 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsCW Young Fund Pharmacy Forum NI
SupervisorJannette Elwood (Supervisor) & Caitlin Donnelly (Supervisor)


  • Pharmacy education
  • community of practice
  • experiential learning
  • CPD
  • community pharmacy
  • transition
  • sociocultural theory
  • landscape of practice
  • professional identity

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