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Using Gamification to Improve Nurse Training & Career Development

Employee training and retention is a constant challenge in the healthcare industry. Of particular concern is the onboarding and development of new nurses. What can be done to keep them from leaving the field, or moving to another entity after much time and expense has gone into their training?

Gamification, which takes many of the benefits of gaming and uses them in multiple business-world applications, may hold the answer, says Lea Sorrentino, Senior Digital Strategist at HealthStream partner and gamification solution provider Bunchball.

“Most nurses are facing a lot of different pieces when they are onboarding or training,” Sorrentino says. “That training is happening in different systems and in different places. Some is automated, some is real-world. It’s really hard when you’re excelling, or falling down, in any one of those areas to see the big picture. As an example, how does in-person training compare and affect coursework, which then influences some other type of tutorial the individual has to go through? How can they see all that in one place to know if they are actually going the right direction?”

Current best practices for nurse onboarding and continuing education involve a combination of classroom education and in-place development. This content can be repetitive, especially for more seasoned nurses, as it basically asks them to attest to an existing understanding of the content and the ability to perform clinical tasks appropriately in order to take care of patients. How can gamification disrupt that traditional environment?

Creating an integrated learning environment for all nurses

“It can create a clear path and being able to connect all those systems into a holistic experience,” Sorrentino says. “There’s more consistent feedback on performance within this training. Gamification provides a lot more touchpoints into some areas that might take a long time to complete. It also provides nurses a way to understand how they should prioritize activities or training to get to where they desire to be. Let’s say you have a certification you need to earn, but to do so you’ll need to: 

  • take a course
  • do some volunteer work
  • complete in-person training
  • complete six months of experience

before that certification is complete. Gamification attaches points to the different activities and indicates how many points each activity is worth. Letting somebody know what is the priority of that activity to the overall experience.”

A lot of what healthcare organizations are going through today revolves around change management and how quickly and how effectively they can align their staff to changes occurring with both the organization and the industry at large. Gamification may be one way to teach nurses, as well as other core staff members, how to be more effective and more efficient. It also can motivate users through positive reinforcement, which builds not only skill sets but also workplace loyalty.

“Most people want to nurture themselves as much as they are nurturing their career or a company’s objective,” Sorrentino offers. “What I think gamification does is make visible the idea of

  • What’s in it for me?
  • What do I get out of this experience?
  • What do I learn?
  • How do I help people by performing this activity?”

Sorrentino adds, “Gamification helps tap into what intrinsically motivates us as people. I’m becoming a master at something. I’m bettering my community, having more social interactions. I can see the progress going from point A to point B. All of these different concepts which drive us in everyday life — that’s what gamification taps into. Instead of performing a job, I want to do this task because I understand how it applies to the things that I care about. That’s what I think is the real power of gamification.”

This blog post is taken from a HealthStream Second Opinions Podcast that was recorded recently. To hear the full discussion, click here.

About Lea Sorrentino:

Lea Sorrentino is Senior Digital Strategist at HealthStream partner Bunchball, Inc., a leading gamification solution provider, where she has worked with Fortune 500 clients across multiple industries to help them focus on supporting and maximizing consumer and employee engagement. Sorrentino has more than seven years of strategy experience servicing notable customers like Urban Outfitters, Cisco, Volkswagen, Marriott, Honeywell, FedEx, United and Cargill. She also is a multi-media artist whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

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