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The learning needs of physicians: should it be formal or informal assessment?

Farhan Vakani (Research Manager, Department of Continuing Professional Education, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan)
Mughis Sheerani (Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan)

Development and Learning in Organizations

ISSN: 1477-7282

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




The objective of this paper is to explore how learning needs of physicians are best achieved when planning for appropriate continuing medical education activities.


This paper examines the informal types of needs‐assessment as opposed to formal types when identifying the learning needs of physicians.


This paper projects how informal types of needs‐assessment probe more deeply into the opinions and perceptions of physicians, thus complementing with formal methods when planning appropriate academic activities.

Research limitations/implications

Informal types of needs‐assessment show promise in deriving a physician's individual learning needs, but has limitations as the educational activities proposed and undertaken would not necessarily benefit a larger group and, as they are usually unshared, would result in unimpressive utilization of educational resources.

Practical implications

Although the method of informal needs‐assessment is noteworthy, when planning academic activities on a larger scale and for wider gain, the formal methods of needs‐assessment are to be preferred.


This paper establishes that the informal method of needs‐assessment is significant in obtaining the true learning needs of the physicians but should always be complemented by formal methods.



Vakani, F. and Sheerani, M. (2011), "The learning needs of physicians: should it be formal or informal assessment?", Development and Learning in Organizations, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 10-12.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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