Students who are training to become nurses, doctors, pharmacists, or other healthcare professionals certainly have to learn quite a bit in order to become certified, but their education doesn’t stop at graduation. Perhaps more than any other profession, healthcare workers are constantly learning while they continue to provide quality care to their patients. Lifelong education has actually been recognized as one of the most important skills that healthcare workers can possess. There are many reasons why this is the case, and a variety of tools that healthcare workers can use to continue learning throughout their careers.
One of the biggest reasons behind the need for continuous education in healthcare is the ever-changing nature of the field. There are constantly new breakthroughs in medical research that result in changes in recommended medical practices. The new insights being discovered in all areas of medicine are a wonderful thing, but they don’t do patients much good unless healthcare workers are aware of the latest changes and can implement them within their practice. Staying informed cannot solely be the responsibility of medical students and professors or even hospital management. If nurses and doctors can consistently adapt and improve, they will be better at their work and able to offer higher quality care to their patients.
In addition to advances in research, there are also continuous improvements to the technology that is used in the medical field. More hospitals are starting to use electronic medical records or EMRs, and there are constant developments in the technology used for surgery. Healthcare workers need to be informed about the latest improvements and inventions so that they can be confident using them with their patients. They can use these developments to educate their patients about new technology as well, making sure they are comfortable.
Government regulations are also ever-changing and can affect how healthcare professionals provide care to their patients, so this is another important area in which to stay informed. Fortunately, self-education doesn’t have to be a strenuous task. Many healthcare workers subscribe to medical journals or newsletters in order to receive the latest research and some continue to educate themselves in a very informal way through conversations with colleagues. Grabbing a cup of coffee with another healthcare professional, especially someone who works at a different hospital or has a different specialization, can provide educational insights as well as an opportunity to socialize.
Lifelong learning also provides personal benefits to healthcare professionals. It allows them to learn new skill sets, expand their knowledge base, and pursue a wide variety of interests. In some cases, it can even open up different career opportunities when healthcare workers choose to take additional courses or obtain a specialization. Most individuals who pursue careers in healthcare do so because they have a genuine passion for it, and many of them possess a keen interest in learning and a fierce dedication to helping others. Continuing to learn throughout their career serves both of these personality traits. Additionally, continuous learning can improve healthcare workers’ overall levels of professional satisfaction, and in many cases, it helps them to advance in their careers. It can be very difficult for healthcare workers to move up to management roles or other senior positions without continuous learning.
Yet another benefit to lifelong learning is that it helps to keep healthcare professionals engaged. In the United States, the current engagement of healthcare professionals is actually lower than the average engagement across the entire workforce. For example, approximately 24% of nurses are disengaged, while only 16% of the general population struggles with disengagement. This is understandable considering the unique pressures that exist within the healthcare field and the overall difficulty of healthcare as a career path. Fortunately, continuous learning can help to improve engagement by combatting some of the everyday challenges faced by healthcare professionals. Self-education also encourages increased levels of creativity among healthcare staff. This is an important factor because it prevents doctors, nurses, and pharmacists from getting stuck in the same routine. While some tried and true methods of treatment will be used consistently, switching things up with new models of care can stimulate healthcare workers as well as benefit their patients.
So, how can healthcare professionals go about obtaining this continuous education? One of the most effective ways to continue to learn is through a mentor. Healthcare professionals with years of experience can offer insights that may not occur to a new nurse or doctor. Mentorship actually provides educational benefits to both mentee and mentor, as explaining skills or concepts to another person can make them clearer for the mentor as well. Additionally, mentees can provide a fresh perspective on a mentor’s work. Having multiple mentors throughout a healthcare career and acting as a mentor to younger professionals can be an extremely beneficial way of implementing lifelong learning. For healthcare workers who are looking for a more formal type of mentorship, teaching is always a great way to both learn and pass on knowledge.
There are also more formal opportunities for education including:
- Attending conferences
- Volunteering on committees
- Participating in research
- Remaining active in healthcare societies and associations
- Courses and certifications
A certain amount of this education may be required, but it is important to practice self-development as well. ProMed Certifications is a great example of formal training that can be a part of any healthcare worker’s lifelong learning. This online resource provides courses in PALS, BLS, ACLS, and CPR, allowing healthcare professionals to become certified or recertified at any time. One of the biggest benefits of ProMed Certifications is that its courses are completed entirely online, meaning that healthcare workers can get certified on their own time. This is crucial for most healthcare professionals’ busy schedules — the last thing that any nurse, doctor, or pharmacist needs is more stress! All of ProMed Certifications’ course materials meet AHA and ILCOR guidelines and they offer a 100% money-back guarantee so that healthcare professionals can have peace of mind.