6 Major Benefits Of Competency-Based Training In Healthcare
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Realizing The Benefits Of Competency-Based Training In Healthcare

Healthcare clinicians cannot afford to waste time on anything that is not important in the context of doing their patient work. Clinicians are busy professionals, moving in systems that pressure them to do more with less, to deliver quality outcomes with little time for preparation and even less patience for iteration. Today’s Healthcare landscape is focused on the efficient delivery of high quality patient outcomes.

Enter competency-based training (CBT). Here are some of the biggest advantages of CBT for the Healthcare industry:

eBook Release: Competency Based Learning in Healthcare Organizations
eBook Release
Competency Based Learning in Healthcare Organizations
Discover what Healthcare organizations stand to gain from Competency-Based Training, and how the CBT movement has begun to make the workforce more relevant.

1. Paying For Performance

There is no question about the benefits of CBT for a Healthcare facility as one of the fundamental advantages to this training approach is the ability to measure the outcomes delivered after training and during the performance period that follows. With the “Pay for Performance” movement in Healthcare, it is natural that we would seek a shift from measuring skills—and paying for skills—to measuring outcomes and paying for performance. However, some clinicians may see this competency-based approach as too rigid – all procedural regulation with no room to engage in creative problem-solving. So how do you get them to swallow the medicine?

The key lies in leveraging their natural passion for the career track they have chosen and engaging them in meaningful learning. In this context, meaningful refers to the direct application of the learning upon a problem facing them today. Clinicians want to be effective in their jobs. By targeting the CBT to focus on the competencies that are immediately relevant, you are not just reinforcing the learning with on-the-job application that improves retention, you are also giving the clinician a skill they can immediately apply to barriers preventing them from feeling effective and capable in their chosen profession. Overcoming those barriers has a built-in reward and will motivate them to continue with the learning as it has proven to be relevant and beneficial to what they really care about – doing their jobs well.

This brings us to the next point – motivation is deeply tied to building the Competency model correctly. Weighing too heavily in areas that are not immediately relevant could actually demotivate a learner. Competencies must be clear, relevant to the clinical context where the job is held, and measurable in a way that the learner feels is fair. In many instances, the broad application of core competencies for a practice area can be structured into a learning journey that walks each clinician through the competencies in the personalized order that reflects what is most relevant to them in their own career path. This personalized path may help the clinician to feel that the CBT approach is targeted, relevant, and helpful throughout the full curriculum suggested.

2. A Relevant Learning Cycle That Never Stops

We are familiar with the growing shift in postgraduate medical education where competency-based training is fast becoming the norm. However, a full career-long focus on competency-based training would allow all clinicians to blend the practicality of vocational training—learning the skills necessary for each new position, new specialty, and new emerging standard—with the relevancy, learner focus, and immediate applicability to business contexts that is valued in Adult Learning. This approach would be engaging, immediately useful, and empower clinical education – and it would be delivered just-in-time.

Building on the tenants of Andragogy, the competency-based learning approach gives busy professionals a way to learn enough to accomplish a discrete outcome relevant to their daily responsibilities. Competency-based learning focuses on creating environments where learners can identify where there are discrete areas that they need to build competency. Systems and training approaches can then use multiple ways to transfer knowledge and provide opportunities for application and measurement of outcomes in a structured (often auto-didactic) evaluation and correction cycle. Once the discrete competency is mastered and demonstrated, the next is layered on top and the cycle continues until all of the competencies needed for the job at hand are mastered.

3. Cost Savings

From the organizational perspective, there is a lot of benefit to building a competency-based learning approach. First and foremost, it is expensive to put people into the classroom seats for training. Not only do you often pay them to learn, but you are usually paying for the backfill of their responsibilities on the floor as well.

And this is the crux of the issue with most traditional training. Formal classroom training programs are painted with broad strokes. They cover all of the topics in a broad area with the hope that whatever needs the training participants have will all be covered in the single training session. This is a very unfocused method of teaching. It also puts the focus on preparatory learning – learning ahead of the exposure to a context where you can apply the knowledge.

The work of Hermann Ebbinghaus on human memory and specifically the “forgetting curve” shows the degradation in information retention over time. Ebbinghaus’s theory tells us that if the knowledge is not reinforced with application it will often erode to a point where it has not been learned at all. That is not time or money well spent.

4. CBT Targets Learning Where It Is Needed Most

With a more targeted learning program, addressing the discrete competencies necessary to do a daily job, the learning focus is highly relevant. Knowledge is given, and then reinforced through hands-on application of the knowledge to a real-world problem. The training path is also shorter, as it focuses on those competencies the individual learner needs to evolve. A shorter training path also means less time away from the job. As described above, the CBT approach is more cost-effective, as is the evidence-based measurement of the learning outcomes, because it gives organizations a level of confidence that the discrete competency has truly been learned by the individual. Time and money can be clearly shown to have a direct impact on job output.

5. CBT Is Flexible And Can Take Place Online

In many organizations, modern competency-based learning happens online meaning that time away from the job can be reduced even further. By creating a Learning Management System that tests for discrete competency needs up front, the results can focus the training path for any user. By supporting blended learning environments, the upfront knowledge acquisition can be completed online, with follow-up simulations and team training exercises to provide evidence-based outcomes to measure the learning.

Transitioning away from classroom or grand round “seat time” measurements for continuing education, CBT favors a flexible structure that allows clinicians to pursue learning that is relevant to their clinical job, allows progress to be measured in the criteria associated with each of the discrete competencies and also is measured immediately in performance on the floor as relevant knowledge is taken back to patient care.

6. Successful CBT Programs Will Be Supported By Learning Management Systems

Clinical education will be transformed by Learning Management Systems that provide access to the evaluation and personalization of training paths focused on discrete competencies with clear measurement criteria. Providing that access any time, in any place, and providing flexibility in the way that knowledge can be applied, is a proven strategy for engaging clinicians in learning. This is because it engages them in real-time problem solving relevant to the problems that they will encounter either today or tomorrow. For more information on Totara, a Learning Management System that provides an organized system for competency-based training, give us a call.

This leads us to the Holy Grail of training—training that is fully integrated into the workflow. In a recent article, Jonathon Levy encourages us to “skip the classes and workshops and embed the needed information directly into the tools that people use to do their job”. By integrating talent development systems into workflow tools, we can bake the training and the competency-based learning right into the process of doing work. As we watch the CBT model develop over time, Levy’s predictions may be part of the future application of CBT for clinical positions. It is not out of the question to imagine that this is what is ahead.

In the meantime, competency-based training continues to be adopted widely, driven by the changing landscape and payment models of Healthcare, and the need for outcome-based measurement to improve patient safety.

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