Working in healthcare means working in an environment without a “closed” sign to hang on the door. There are workers whose schedules span all hours of the day, workers under constant pressure of patient safety, and workers who are successful because they practice similar tasks daily, often begrudging change. In the middle of these dedicated healthcare workers are educators.
How can an educator be successful with a learner population spread through all hours, generations, and levels of formal training?
Understand the WhyThe phrase “we need more education” is often repeated in the healthcare industry, and it can be daunting to an educator when the needs list is long. With a thorough analysis and the ADDIE model, educators identify what drives the request. Is the request in reaction to a patient safety event, to introduce a new policy, or to reinforce education already given? The why behind the request also dictates the urgency of education creation. Mitigating risk to patients becomes a priority while introducing a new piece of infrequently used equipment moves lower on the list. The educator must understand what the stakeholder is asking and what they are expecting to see after education. By understanding the why, education can be developed to fit the need, evaluated for outcomes, and sustained in practice change.
Start With the End in MindEducation is only as good as the behaviors changed and the experiences sustained. When success of education is often evaluated by patient care, the educator must start with the end in mind. Understanding the evaluation method and its reportability can guide the information delivery and retention measures. Chart audits, patient and family satisfaction, staff satisfaction, and patient outcomes are healthcare methods that can be evaluated as a result of education provided.
Get Leader Buy-InAs we learned from the Disney movie Remember the Titans, “attitude reflects leadership.” To garner a positive response from the end user, leadership must be supportive. A positive response to education is not just enjoying the education experience; it is changing procedures, practice, and expectations in daily care. It is through application of knowledge that healthcare outcomes improve. By partnering early with the clinical leadership team, the scope of education, along with expectations, can be discussed before implementation. As informal leaders, educators can influence the workplace, but without continued support from leadership, the ability to sustain education and change is lost.
Do PilotsWhile it is easy to assume everything makes sense to the learner, the truth is, often the message is not understood by or applied to them and their working environment. Piloting the training tells the creator what is great, what needs adjustments, and what should be changed completely. It guides the educator to create a learning experience focused on knowledge acquisition and application expectations. Pilots are not a novel idea for education, but often with the sense of urgency in healthcare, they can be overlooked. Pilots ensure the why behind the education is being met and understood at the learner level.
Provide Options and ActivitiesWith the rate of change and stress demands on healthcare workers, effective education needs modernization and accessibility. Educational options should be focused on technology, application to practice, lasting resources, learner experience, and providing education quickly and effectively. By providing options and activities like roadshows, videos, games, QR codes, and monthly education hints, retention of knowledge and application to practice can be supported.
Educators in healthcare have the unique responsibility of creating learning experiences for physiological understanding and regulatory standards as well as onboarding, professional development, and technology advancement. Education will be an ongoing need in healthcare, and by keeping these tips in mind, education can be impactful and sustained.