healthcare training
ATD Blog

Asking the Right Questions in Healthcare L&D

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Elliot Masie once said, “Bad education is bad education no matter how it is served.” He was referring to a trend in the education field at the time to turn everything into an automated PowerPoint and call it education. Healthcare has certainly been guilty of this. Prettying up our slides or automating them does not make them more educational. 

The basic premises of education and the research behind them are pretty universal across industries. However, each industry has unique drivers, standards, challenges, and constraints that must be addressed—and this certainly applies to the healthcare industry. 

If we fail to address those unique attributes, the education can be seen as irrelevant. As adults, we view our world through the lenses of our experiences and acquired knowledge. If something conflicts with our frame of reference, it can interrupt the learning process. For instance, if you are training neonatal nurses how to document patient care in an electronic health record system, but give them a scenario that has wrong drug doses for a neonate, they could be so distracted by the incorrect scenario that learning may not take place. 

Healthcare’s Challenges in Education 

Healthcare faces a continual state of change due to new research, government mandates, reimbursement models, and other issues. This creates a need for continual learning and changes to educational materials. 

So, in addition to the day-to-day educational needs of new hire orientation and mandatory refresher courses, new equipment, systems, medical breakthroughs, processes, and payer modules are increasing the responsibility of clinicians. In addition to all these tasks, we must also teach clinicians how to educate patients and deal with increasing cuts. Unfortunately, education teams are being reduced in size right when clinicians need more education and are incurring higher patient-to-clinician ratios. 

Response: Ask the Right Questions 


It is more important than ever to deliver and reinforce education in a manner that creates true results. Doing things as we have always done them will no longer cut it. We must be looking for ways to help clinicians learn with ease so they can spend more time providing care to patients. Questions to ask include: 

  • Is our new hire education model still effective?
  • Are there new technologies that can be utilized?
  • Are there new methods that create better outcomes?
  • How do I measure the outcomes to ensure I am spending my time in the right areas?
  • How do I make sure I am delivering relevant content to each healthcare role?
  • Am I properly prioritizing my work to ensure I am delivering the content most important to my organization?
  • What are other healthcare organizations doing to obtain greater learning outcomes in a shorter amount of time? 

Healthcare learners drive the work of healthcare learning professionals. However, organizational learning will always play a big role in achieving the outcomes that help manage the challenges of the healthcare sector. Therefore, organizational learning can increase satisfaction, recruitment, and retention, and promote healthy work environments. 

Bottom line: Asking the questions above will be paramount to your success.


To learn more, read the February 2015 bonus issue of TD at Work, “ Learning and Development in Healthcare.” This issue will explain how learning needs in the healthcare field differ from other professions, the ADDIE model can be modified for the healthcare sector, to align training with current reporting requirements, to choose the correct tools to evaluate the effectiveness of L&D programs. 




About the Author


Bruno Neal is a scholar and a learning and development authority. He has written dozens of articles on learning and development, two Infoline issues on Informal Learning and Quality in Learning and Development, and one TD at Work™ on Learning and Development in Healthcare. He is a Certified Professional of Learning and Performance (CPLP), and currently works as an L&D leader for Indiana University Health. He has been appointed to the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, a judge of the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 Association for Talent Development (ATD) BEST Award, and Chair of the award committee since 2014. 

Neal was awarded with the highly esteemed American Society of Training & Development BEST Award in 2009, and part of the team awarded with the same achievement in 2011. He also was awarded with the Champion of Learning Award Certification for his contribution to learning and professional development in 2011. In 2015, Neal received the Global Training & Development Leadership Award at the World Training & Development Congress in Mumbai (India) for his contributions to the international learning and development community.

Neal also serves as contributor for ATD’s T+D Magazine. In addition, he has spoken at ATD International Conference & Exposition, local chapters of ATD across the United States, Cancer Treatment of America, Training Magazine conference, the Training and Education chapter of the National Association of Electric Distributors (NAED), Medical Users Software Exchange (MUSE), and ATD’s Learn from the BEST conferences.

About the Author

Linda Hainlen is the director of business development at Sedona Learning Solutions, a Kirkpatrick Certified Facilitator, and an international author. She served as director of learning solutions for IU Health in Indianapolis, IN for 18 years.

Linda has over 25 years of proven experience as a training manager--including real world experience applying the Kirkpatrick principles. “Utilizing the Kirkpatrick Business Partnership Model truly transformed my results and elevated my division at IU Health to a strategic business partner in the organization. I am passionate about working with other organizations to help them elevate their results through partnering and obtaining sustainable outcomes.”

Linda is an engaging facilitator and presenter, who authentically and successfully connects with audiences by bringing concepts to life through sharing her own experiences from working in a highly regulated industry. Her practical and genuine approach inspires participants not only in thinking but in applying their newfound knowledge and skills.

Under Linda’s leadership, her division at IU Health was awarded the highly prestigious ASTD Best award in 2011. Linda has been published several times, including a white paper co-written with Jim Kirkpatrick on the topic of healthcare. Her ATD Infoline on “Designing Informal Learning” made the top 50 best sellers and was translated into 83 languages. Linda has been a speaker at several international conferences and has worked with companies from around the world to improve their effectiveness and achieve measurable outcomes. Industries served include higher education, corporate learning, nuclear, and healthcare. Sedona Learning is currently the only US Kirkpatrick Partners affiliate.

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