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Three Challenges Demanding a New Approach to Healthcare Training and Development

The efforts of nurse managers and other healthcare leaders to use training in strategic ways that advance workforce skills are often prevented by structural issues. However, technological advances in how to conduct healthcare staff assessments and provide individualized education have the potential to address long-standing challenges that exist for nursing and the clinical workforce. This blog post is the first of several based on the HealthStream webinar, “Meet Jane, the First Clinical Competency System with AI,” which focused on workforce development challenges typical in healthcare and technology that can be a solution to them.

Presenter Trisha Coady is HealthStream's top clinical officer and leads the company's clinical solution business for the U.S. healthcare workforce. Coady has experience as a registered nurse and healthcare entrepreneur and has led the development of new innovative clinical solutions for the healthcare workforce, many of them incorporating technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality.

The Problem of Time in Healthcare

During the webinar, Coady shares her mandate to find solutions that really make sense as answers to healthcare employee development and human resources problems. She emphasizes three of these challenges here. One of them is the fundamental fact that “time is a problem in healthcare.” To illustrate this dilemma, she relates how on average “ nurse managers have 34 direct reports, where in other industries, ten is often the maximum.” That means healthcare is often short-staffed, and its nurse managers are typically pressed for time. In response, “Healthcare really needs to leverage technology and automation because of those things.” Even though human interaction will always have value for learning and development, there has to be a way to use technology to accomplish more and be more efficient.

Better Engagement to Drive Retention

A second outstanding issue is the need for “a more personalized approach to developing people.” Coady bemoans how much education being assigned at healthcare organizations ends up feeling transactional.  She remembers her past experience of feeling “punished or overburdened with these 20 hours of assignments because of an error that happened somewhere in the organization—the concept of blanket re-education.” If providers continue to assign check-the-box activities to valued employees, they perpetuate an environment of non-engagement. This runs counter to “ our value-based healthcare system, in which everyone needs to retain the best employee to ensure quality outcomes.” Hiring and employment are becoming more and more competitive in healthcare—to really retain our top talent we must change how employees feel about their workplaces. Technology can be a productive part of engaging staff, if we use it to “create a culture of learning, have more self-directed development, and instead provide advancement opportunities for employees.”

Complex, Demanding Environment for Healthcare Training and Education

Coady also points out the challenging reality of the healthcare training environment and its multiple ongoing needs. Conflicting goals for education extend from meeting regulatory and accreditation requirements and continuously improving outcomes to documenting competency at scale and using technology for training and education as strategically and broadly as possible. Coady singles out the urgency of reducing time to competence, given the staffing situation across healthcare. She wants to get away from “aessing, and testing, and doing courses on the same thing over and over and over,” and instead “focus on critical thinking as a foundation for learning.”

Access the complete webinar recording