Creating a Culture of Lifelong Learning in Healthcare: Best Practices

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Recently, HealthStream discussed healthcare employee career development with Patricia Cooper, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Vice President of Clinical Operations for Quorum Health Resources (Quorum). Quorum is a well-known, 30-year-old integrated professional services company, providing both for-profit and not-for-profit hospital management and consulting services. They also provide lifelong learning for their employees as well as tools and strategies for their clients to support lifelong learning programs for their employees. In addition, The Quorum Learning Institute educates more than 10,000 healthcare professionals each year. Ms. Cooper offered the following best practices for fostering a culture of lifelong learning:

Use behavioral assessments as part of hiring.

Before employees are hired, we conduct behavioral interviews to help us look at detailed examples of their work, certifications, etc. We want to see that they are excited and enthusiastic about their work. We usually tell very quickly when a hired employee is not the right fit. It might show up in late reports, lack of detail in reports, or a lack of interest in next steps and key metrics.

Take a rigorous approach to employee evaluations.

Our process starts with self-evaluations, which serve as the foundation for lifelong learning. Self-evaluations help employees establish where they currently are, where they want to be and then develop a plan to get there.

Have a plan for how to grow all employees.

We also utilize a tool called the Healthcare Competency Framework, which introduces different roles within Quorum who they may interact with as well as the technical requirements of the job. The framework includes expectations of employees from a practice and professional development standpoint and the level of experience that is required, business development expectations, credentials, additional certifications, and practice-specific expectations.

Help staff members establish their development plans.

Employees can develop plans to move across disciplines, to move up within their discipline and within the organization. This system creates a detailed and individualized plan. To begin, employees work with their managers to identify their goals. From there, a plan is established that includes a detailed timeline, areas of focus, and necessary competencies to develop for new or expanding roles. This plan might also include educational items that should be completed and milestone tasks that must be accomplished.

Provide tools that generate development opportunities

We provide access to information so that our employees can succeed with their development efforts. These resources may include newsletters, professional associations, conferences, etc. This process is especially helpful for employees who do not have defined professional goals. Through our professional development efforts, employees can discover exciting career opportunities. In addition, our employees work closely with their managers to anticipate client needs and connect the dots between what they are learning and how they can use that information to better meet client needs.

Encourage employees to move within the organization.

eLearning is a great tool for RNs and for management. We need to help nurses develop and move away from task orientation to understand the bigger picture of patient care. It is important to recognize the nurses who are experts in their field and also have the leadership potential to help move the organization forward. We use a tool to identify and determine where our nurses lie on the continuum of various levels of nursing, from novice to leader. Strong leadership, communication and decision making skills as well as executing great patient care—are some characteristics of a nursing leader.

We also developed a tool that helps nurses move towards more of a shared governance model. This cannot be done exclusively by the CNO. These tools help to identify and to mentor and develop staff to become an integral part of the team that will implement the shared governance model. The tool also helps identify leaders (and those who are perceived as leaders by their peers).

Learn more about HealthStream’s talent management solutions.