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Learning the rules of the game: how health and social care students learn to learn

11 May 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 9 (1)

Practice placements are essential to pre-registration nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, providing theoretical underpinning and developing professional identity. Professional bodies clearly stipulate the amount of practice required. For example, in the UK, it is 50% of the pre-registered nursing programme (Health and Care Professions Council, 2018; Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2018; Social Work England, 2021).

Wenger's (1998) classic work describes the concept of practice as:

‘Including both the explicit and the tacit … what is said and what is left unsaid, what is represented and what is assumed, subtle cues, untold rules of thumb; most of which may never be articulated, yet they are unmistakable signs of membership of the community of practice.’

Wenger, 1998: 47

This highlights the silences – the unwritten and implicit rules of the game. Tacit knowing has gained recognition as a vital source of knowledge that informs clinical decision-making. It is therefore questionable how we capture and transfer tacit knowledge so that learners are able to ‘play the game’.

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