When we put lifelong learning in the context of healthcare, there’s an enormous need and a use case for application of lifelong learning for anyone who is working in healthcare. Healthcare is not stagnant. As we all know, it’s a very complex industry and changing continuously. We have a lot of growth yet to do within healthcare to match the quality that is experienced and practiced in other industries.
A recent HealthStream webinar, “Lifelong Learning: The Gift that keeps on Giving,“ was led by Diane Hansen, Chief Nursing Officer at our partner EBSCO Health and Editor-in-Chief of Dynamic Health. During her presentation, she focused extensively on the value of lifelong learning in a clinical environment and addressed the responsibility of managers to encourage lifelong learning among staff.
Managers Should Promote Lifelong Learning
There are many ways managers can facilitate lifelong learning for your team or within your team. First of all, Hansen offers, “You really have to walk your talk. You have to set a good example. It always starts with you.” It is essential for a manager to model behavior for a lifelong learner and to be authentic. Hansen adds, “You can’t state that someone else needs to do it if you’re not participating in it yourself.” When you participate in a learning activity, you can share what you’ve learned formally and informally with a broader team of colleagues. That will show that you’re being authentic and that you’re walking your talk. Hansen makes these four suggestions:
1. Identify learning opportunities for subordinates.
Find relevant learning opportunities to recommend to your team or to your colleagues. You can encourage both group and individual learning venues and take in consideration the variety of learning needs and preferences of the team.
2. Provide continuing education tools.
Support the use of tools in the workplace designed to support lifelong learning principles. Providing access to these tools in daily practice allows clinicians to learn and continuously improve in the practice environment.
3. Have regular development conversations with employees.
If you’re in a leadership role and you have team members who are working directly with you, you can build development discussions into your regular performance and development conversations. You can also set goals and objectives for learning. You can encourage career advancement and involvement in new learning to augment current knowledge.
4. Promote advanced degree completion.
All clinical disciplines in healthcare are advancing the educational requirements right now and providing adult learners with opportunities to participate in obtaining adjacent additional degrees as well as advanced practice degrees. As a leader, you can identify team members ready for this next step.
The Result of Promoting Lifelong Learning - Engagement
The result of these efforts could well be greater engagement among members of your team. When staff members are more engaged in the workplace, they care more about the outcomes of their contributions and feel valued by the organization. For example, Hansen shares, “It’s been proven statistically that retention rates for new graduate nurses increase significantly over national benchmarks when nurse residency programs are utilized.” Simultaneously, a hospital benefits with a better return on recruiting and onboarding costs as it gains cohorts of new nurses engaged and satisfied with the organization. Importantly, this continuous lifelong learning cycle helps people to understand that they can provide an expanded contribution to society and extends their options for career choices and life enrichment.
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