Times are constantly changing. It is becoming harder and harder to stay up to date with all of the new electronic innovations that appear every year: the new phones, the new computers, the new handheld devices, and the list can go on. New vehicles are being released every year. The economy is changing, world events are shifting faster than is possible to keep up with, and as surroundings speed up personal lives are changing just as rapidly. Just imagine, then, how much the medical profession is changing! New cures for cancer are being researched; new antibiotics and other medications are being formulated to combat both new and old strains of viruses and bacteria. Even the way patients’ statistics are recorded is changing. Do you want to be in the hands of a health care professional who is not completely up to date on how to treat you?
For example, there have been changes in the way in which healthcare records are kept. HRSA.gov talks about Electronic Health Records, or EHR, which has the potential to both save health care professionals a lot of time while keeping patients safer with more accurate records. Health IT professionals will need special training in order to operate the systems. In this economy it can be hard to warrant extra expenses, and continuing education for health care professionals can certainly be considered an extra expense. However, it is a most necessary extra expense. If health care professionals are going to stay on top of the different conditions which they have to manage, then they have to be constantly learning what is new in the field. Southuniversity.edu reminds people that professionals, including health care professionals, also need continuing education in their field of knowledge to stay on top of the changing laws and to keep their certification even in some instances.
Besides just providing continuing education to health care professionals, one must also measure the effectiveness of health care professionals. After all, continuing education will turn into an unnecessary extra expense if it is given to people who do not need it. To avoid that unwanted end result, it is paramount to measure competencies of health care professionals both before and after continuing education. That way the people who really need education in a certain area will receive it while people who do not need more education or training in that specific area will not have to take classes or receive training. Competency, as the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy points out, means being well-qualified, or having both adequate knowledge and ability, in a certain area. To measure competencies a person has to look at several different things. A post by Dr. Peter Johnson on his blog Measuring Competence describes the steps involved in assessing competencies. First, he says, you must test clinical skills. Sometimes these skills become like instinct, and a person cannot explain how they do what they do. However, the best way to test clinical skills, Dr. Johnson explains, is by looking at the outcomes, the results, of the person being tested. Second, though, clinical reasoning must be tested. It is important that a person knows how to do what they do, however. So, testing head knowledge as well as the actual function of skills is vital.
Once someone has been given training – continuing education – it is very important to know if that extra training has been beneficial to them. After all, if the continuing education has not been useful, it simply becomes an unneeded expense, and an unneeded expense translates into wasted money. However, if the training proves to be beneficial, then the money was well spent and the people coming to health care professionals for care and cures are in safer hands. To measure the effectiveness of training, you have to measure the same variable that you measured before when you were assessing competencies before the additional training. This means, when measuring the competencies of health care professionals, that you have to assess the head knowledge that they have gained. Even more importantly than assessing head knowledge, though, you have to see if the results that the health care professionals in their work environment have changed at all. If you see improvement, then the continuing education was a success.
People and places undergo rapid change, constantly. The pace of that change seems to only be increasing as each day goes by. It is important for professionals to stay on top of their game. To do that, constant assessments are necessary. Assessments will let you know how someone is doing without further continuing education. After the training, assessments of the professionals’ head knowledge and practical skills will tell how effective the continuing education was.
“Health Information Technology Workforce.” HRSA. Retrieved from
“The Importance of Continuing Education.” SouthUniversity. Retrieved from
Johnson, Dr. Peter. (January 4, 2006) “Measuring Clinical Competency.” Measuring Competence in Healthcare. Retrieved from
“Struggling With the Notion of Competency.” The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Retrieved from