Background: In this study, we explore the nexus between social networks and expertise development of Australian breast radiologists. Background literature has shown that a lack of appropriate social networks and interaction among certain professional group(s) may be an obstacle for knowledge acquisition, information flow and expertise sharing. To date there have not been any systematic studies investigating how social networks and expertise development are interconnected and whether this leads to improved performance for breast radiologists.
Methods: This study explores the value of social networks in building expertise alongside with other constructs of performance for the Australian radiology workforce using semi-structured in-depth interviews with 17 breast radiologists.
Results: The findings from this study emphasise the influences of knowledge transfer and learning through social networks and interactions as well as knowledge acquisition and development through experience and feedback. The results also show that accessibility to learning resources and a variety of timely feedback on performance through the information and communication technologies (ICT) is likely to facilitate improved performance and build social support.
Conclusions: We argue that radiologists' and, in particular, breast radiologists' work performance, needs to be explored not only through individual numerical characteristics but also by analysing the social context and peer support networks in which they operate and we identify multidisciplinary care as a core entity of social learning.