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Success Has Many Meanings for Healthcare Workforce-Training

“How do you define your success?” is a common question in training for healthcare.

It’s a great question, and one that’s never going to get the same answer twice. That’s certainly true in healthcare, where rapid change has fostered a state of perpetual innovation and advancement, says Andy Lawrence, Vice President of Enterprise Learning & Personal Development at SCL Health, a faith-based, not-for-profit health network serving communities in Colorado, Kansas, and Montana. There he leads the learning and development efforts for the system's 15,000 associates and oversees many different projects that define the word “successful” in various ways.

“In my experience, there are two metrics that are important to executives,” Lawrence says. “I think that they are important to learners as well:

  • Reduced time to train.
  • Increased representative performance.”

He adds, “Let me give you an example. I've worked in industries where it has been very successful tos take a curriculum, say 12 weeks in length. You set a goal to reduce that training time by 33%, you're going to drop that class from 12 weeks to nine weeks. That's a goal. Setting that mark of reducing time to train by a particular percentage is drawing a stake in the ground. Now, that doesn't happen arbitrarily. It's been based on the desire to change the way the learning actually takes place.”

That can mean taking a traditional classroom environment out of the equation and putting assignments out as daily activities, or as small-group coaching, and let the learning proceed at an individual pace. Once mastery is shown, the person moves to the next level, reengages with peers and instructors, and so on. At the same time, results of the new curriculum and the cohort going through it are being measured to see if the target learning time is going to be met, and it’s all being compared to the former method to see if it’s better.”

“Whatever the metrics or measures are, if you compare those two curriculums you can then begin to measure the learning curve and where people begin to perform at certain intervals,” Lawrence says. “If the new curriculum is successful, you will see an increase in the representative performance.”

Why learning time and increased performance are key

Reducing training time and boosting importance both benefit the person being trained, Lawrence adds, which is why they are core to what he and other educators look for in any training or development program.

“It speaks to whole concept of stewardship, it speaks to the whole concept of, focusing in on the learner,” he explains. “But it does also require a great deal of courage and a great deal of hand-holding both from a leadership and an end-user perspective as we begin to try to change the landscape of learning and development. It's a journey.”

That journey will be front and center in the healthcare world, where rapid change in everything from patient care technology to procedures is coupled with an evolving payment and reimbursement system, all put through the grinder of political change and public perception.

“I think technology without a doubt is going to have an influence,” Lawrence predicts. “I think the millennials and all generations in the organization will continue to articulate their needs. We have to listen to them; that will ultimately guide where we land. Collaborative learning and engagement of resources in geographically dispersed locations will start to be more meaningful. I think we'll corporately learn a lot from what's happening in colleges and universities around the distance education aspect. I think we just have to keep racing to the finish line and moving at the speed of business to respond to the needs of learners. The true test and the true source of insight will be our associates. They'll tell us whether we're on the right track — and they certainly will tell us if we're not.”

About Andy Lawrence:

Andy Lawrence is Vice President of Enterprise Learning & Personal Development at SCL Health, a faith-based, not-for-profit health network serving communities in Colorado, Kansas and Montana. Lawrence leads the learning and development efforts for the system's 15,000 associates. He has more than 30 years of IT and HR experience in healthcare, telecommunications, financial services, energy, and transportation.

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

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