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The Role of Healthcare Leadership in Promoting Lifelong Learning to Improve Staff Engagement

This blog post continues our series about Lifelong Learning featuring HealthStream’s partner, EBSCO Health.

Everyone in healthcare likes to talk about Lifelong Learning and its importance. What is it, and how does it apply to our industry? Diane Hanson, the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) at our partner EBSCO Health, was recently interviewed about lifelong learning and its role in keeping healthcare professionals current in their fields. HealthStream asked Diane to elaborate on the connection between lifelong learning and healthcare staff engagement, as well as the role of leadership in promoting Lifelong Learning. Below is an excerpt from the article written from her responses:

When asked the important question about how Lifelong Learning relates to job satisfaction and engagement, Diane had this to say:

A “win-win” scenario is created when organizations invest in team member improvement and continuing education/competency as part of supporting lifelong learning. Employees are encouraged to build new skillsets and competencies. In turn, employees offer their employer a broader span of experience and wisdom. Employees feel invested in and become loyal to the organization, improving satisfaction and overall engagement in the workplace. This engagement allows team members to care more about the outcomes of their contributions and feel valued by the organization. For example, it’s been proven statistically that when hospitals invest in nurse residency programs, retention rates for new graduate nurses increase significantly over national benchmarks. The hospital benefits with a better return on recruiting/onboarding costs and gains cohorts of new nurses engaged and satisfied with the organization.

Healthcare leaders are critical in facilitating Lifelong Learning for their employees, says Diane.

Some people are naturally curious and independently seek out opportunities for career advancement, continuous learning, and improved skillsets. Others need direction and coaching to effectively engage in continuous lifelong learning activities. Healthcare leaders can contribute and facilitate lifelong learning by:

Setting a good example. It always starts with you. Model behaviors of a lifelong learner. Be authentic. You must also have experienced lifelong learning to promote and coach others to value it. When you participate in a learning activity, share what you learned formally and informally with the broader team of colleagues.

Seeking learning opportunities. Find relevant learning opportunities to recommend to your team. Encourage group and individual learning venues and take into consideration the variety of learning needs and preferences of the team.

Providing continuing education tools. Support the use of tools in the workplace designed to support lifelong learning principles. Providing access to tools in daily practice allows clinicians to learn and continuously improve in the practice environment.

Having development conversations. Build regular performance and development conversations into discussions related to continuous learning goals and objectives. Encourage career advancement and involvement in new learning to augment current knowledge.

Promoting advanced degree completion. All clinical disciplines in healthcare are advancing educational requirements and providing adult learners with opportunities to participate in obtaining adjacent additional degrees as well as advanced practice degrees. As a leader, identify team members ready for this next step.

About Diane Hanson RN, BSN, MM; Chief Nursing Officer, EBSCO Health, and Editor in Chief, Dynamic Health

Diane Hanson is the Editor in Chief of Dynamic Health at EBSCO Health. In this role she provides leadership direction for nursing and allied health reference and clinical decision support strategies for the organization. After spending several years working in a hospital organization in various clinical and leadership positions, Diane has been focused on improving quality and evidence-based practice at the point of care through clinical decision support, health informatics and analytics. Diane brings over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, most recently as Vice President of Product Strategy & Management at Vizient Inc. Previously she served at Elsevier as General Manager within their CDS division and with Eclipsys (Allscripts) in an EVP leadership role. Diane is a published author and speaker on evidence-based practice and clinical decision support. She holds a degree in nursing from Grand Valley State University and a Masters in Management degree from Aquinas College.


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