There are many reciprocal benefits gained when individuals and their organizations are both committed to lifelong learning, which is valuable at many stages of a healthcare professional’s career. A win-win scenario occurs when organizations invest in team improvement and facilitate staff access to continuing education and other ways to build competency.
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 offered three examples of healthcare team members at different stages of their careers and discussed some specific learning needs or activities that might be recommended for that particular profile.
Example 1: Sheila, a BSN-prepared RN, practicing for five years in Med/Surg
On her Med/Surg unit, Sheila encounters a variety of diagnoses, procedures, and treatment categories for which she has to be responsible and accountable. She needs evidence-based information on an ongoing basis at the point of care to not only help her stay updated on the most recent evidence but also allow her to participate in trackable continuing education for her licensure requirement. Clinical leadership in a preceptor role might be the next step for Sheila—she may have already been approached to take on more leadership responsibility in a preceptor role to assist the onboarding and orientation of new team members. After being in her role for five years, Sheila might be interested in learning about another clinical area or she could participate in clinical research or take on some project or committee work as part of her lifelong learning journey. It’s not uncommon for nurses to seek specialty certification to augment their current knowledge. For Sheila, as a five-year nurse, there are many activities appropriate to continue a life-long journey in her career.
Example 2: Dr. Tad, an Internal Medicine physician, practicing for 10 years
In his internal medicine specialty, Dr. Tad needs to stay updated in the recent evidence, treatment options, and pharmaceuticals. He also must stay updated on all new medical equipment to remain safe in his practice and provide safe patient care. He also requires continuing education credits to maintain his credentialing and privileging at the organization where he chooses to practice. Many times, physicians attend conferences and participate in professional presentations as part of their lifelong learning journey. Dr. Tad uses a number of evidence-based tools that can assist him with his day-to-day decision-making. He may use patient engagement tools that help him stay current on the recent evidence and help him engage with patients. Dr. Tad may also, depending on where he practices, be asked to take on an academic teaching appointment or participate in research and practice advancement within his specialty. Many technology and digital solutions continue to come on the market to help healthcare be more efficient and effective. He may need to learn several of those technologies to stay updated as well.
Example 3: Darlene, a Masters-level nurse, MHA, 25-Year Leader, and System CNO
Even someone with a lengthy career, who has been leading for 25 years, has a lot of opportunities still to be a lifelong learner. Darlene could take part in activities that help her build her leadership skills and expand her new knowledge around leading teams. Often, organizations provide leaderships programs or courses that Darlene could take advantage of to continue improving her skillset as a leader. Understanding financial reporting is an important function, and those in an executive role need to regularly interpret the numbers, understand their financial impact, and participate in reporting financial results. Dealing with all the changes within the healthcare environment, Darlene would have the opportunity to learn about change management theory to help with implementing change in her areas. She also would need to stay updated on healthcare trends, patterns, and regulatory requirements that might impact her clinical leadership and areas. For her lifelong learning, she could participate in getting a certification in healthcare leadership. With the move to value-based care, leadership needs to change their models of care to match the demands of the changing healthcare environment. There are many opportunities for Darlene to continue her lifelong learning journey.
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