by Darcey Trescone, RN
Over the years, I have had the privilege to instruct, mentor/coach and learn alongside many talented and wonderful healthcare professionals. The role of caregiving, in any capacity, can be both rewarding and stressful at the same time. The demands of the job, coupled with ever-changing monetary penalties on inadequate clinical documentation, can sometimes make healthcare feel like a thankless career.
Becoming a healthcare professional means accepting a commitment to continual learning. There are, however, some key items to consider when it comes to effective adult learning.
Truthfully, I myself do not engage in learning something new or changing behaviors unless there is a motivator to do so. Only once I understand the value in the new material or change required do I commit things to memory and practice. This holds true for most adult learners.
Motivators help answer the question of "What’s in it for me and why." A successful strategy for adult learners is to ensure they understand the relationship between what is being taught and how it will enrich their role within their profession or in the company.
The challenge for instructors is that every student’s motivation could be slightly different. To effectively prepare participants to learn there needs to be rapport between the instructor and student. It is this rapport that identifies each one's motivation. Instructors must:
Feedback should be specific and provide the student with knowledge about their learning results. This requires one on one interaction and discussion to ensure understanding of the material presented.
If the student can replicate a new skill or desired behavior after learning, then the instructor should use immediate positive reinforcement to encourage that behavior to continue. We know retention of material decreases over time. Therefore, it is critical that the instructor continue to follow up at different time points in the future. If the new skill or behavior diminishes, additional instruction and coaching must be provided immediately.
Retention is directly related to how the student is engaged by the instructor during the learning process. Research by the National Training Laboratory demonstrates the amount of information a student retains depends on how the material is presented. Below are retention rates for seven common methods of teaching new information:1
Actively involving adult students in learning through discussion, practice, group projects and role-playing builds a better understanding of the material presented and provides a higher return on long term retention. Receiving information passively through lecture, email, presentations or handouts is rarely committed to memory. Materials for reference are typically misplaced.
Anyone in the role of instructor, regardless of title, needs to understand how adults learn and the experience adult professionals bring to the table. Motivators are key to ensuring the adult learner is ready to receive new material. Feedback and reinforcement ensure the new skill or desired behavior is achieved during instruction and continues afterward. Retention of that material is directly correlated to how the instructor engages the student in learning and that they follow up regularly after the learning occurs.
1 World Bank. (n.d.). The learning pyramid. Retrieved from the World Bank Web site
Darcey Trescone is a Healthcare IS and Business Development Consultant in the Post-Acute Healthcare Market with a strong background working with both providers and vendors specific to Home Care and Hospice. She has worked as a home health nurse and held senior operational, product management and business development positions with various post-acute software firms, where her responsibilities included new and existing market penetration, customer retention and oversight of teams across the U.S., Canada and Australia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2018 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. email@example.com