Effective translation of your team’s learning to successful real-world practice within the healthcare industry means professional development solutions have to look beyond data and scientific content delivery within knowledge-enhancement training programmes. So, how can you use industry best practice benchmarks and patient case studies to get your teams real-world ready?
Healthcare is a fast-moving field in which patient outcomes and experiences depend on the professional expertise of all involved, directly or indirectly, in their care. Medical affairs trainers must closely consider the situations and scenarios in which training will be used to ensure that knowledge enhancement also drives behaviour change and skills development, and promotes the confidence to apply these competencies. In this article, we are going to explore three key areas within medical affairs learning development that will enable you to maximize the application of your learning programmes and support patient-centric learning.
Competency frameworks are used to define performance excellence, linking individual or team successes to their organizations. These frameworks provide clarity for individuals about company expectations and required professional attributes, and offer managers standards against which to support evaluation, reflection and progress. Competency frameworks can assist with building Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for teams and individuals and with linking these to your organization’s Critical Success Factors (CSFs). As we have previously discussed, these can then be connected to the intended learning outcomes of the training programmes that you invest in to help ensure that they are aligned to your strategic objectives.
Competency frameworks often include a mixture of:
- Core competencies: these support the organization’s values and mission and apply to all internal roles.
- Technical competencies: these apply to specific roles or functions within the organization. Technical competencies define the levels, depth and breadth of knowledge and skills expertise.
- Behavior competencies: these include benchmarks for internal and/or external interactions, activities, ethical standards and processes.
We have spoken before about the importance of a detailed needs analysis when designing and implementing a learning solution. The utilization of competency frameworks in the needs analysis processes ensures training programmes are closely aligned not only to the standard of knowledge, but also to the behaviors and skills individuals require after they leave the training environment. It considers the performance expectation of learners as well as the strategic goals and vision of your organization.
Practice, practice, practice
This simple yet crucial message is easy to overlook in training design, buried beneath the hard data and clinical content that needs to be conveyed. But separating skills training from knowledge training is never as effective or engaging as running the two in tandem. When your learners take part in training, whether they are encountering brand new information and activities or building on knowledge and skills already held, it is vital to create opportunities for practice, reflection, feedback and refinement.
Deliberate practice reinforces knowledge and skills development, increasing automaticity – the learner’s ability to apply knowledge and skills automatically – without having to link previously disjointed pieces of training together or dwell on technical and application-based details. It builds the learner’s capability and confidence, driving their ability to engage in more effective and then more complex interactions.
Opportunities for practice can be created in a variety of settings. Role plays, roundtable discussions and assessments are all forms of practice that improve learning. Role plays also provide rehearsal scenarios that may be used to bring in the patient voice and perspective. An example of this kind of role play could be if a learner’s peer or superior takes the role of a patient with a needle phobia, and someone else takes the role of the HCP helping them navigate this anxiety by explaining to them how their self-administration injection device has been designed so that they feel confident using it safely and effectively. You may even include a third voice, such as that of a MSL, who interacts with the HCP to provide them with the information that they need to explain the device to the patient, translating the technical details of the product into a clinical setting. Role play practice such as this increases learners’ confidence during the real-life delivery and application of knowledge and skills.
Assessments also encourage learners not just to recall data, key concepts and information, but also to consider their application in the real world. Assessments should provide instant feedback and knowledge or competencies reinforcement as a means of continual and applied learning. Assessments either during or at the end of a module are a powerful opportunity to use scenario-style questions that reiterate the priorities of the end users (the HCP and the patient) and the impact that learners’ increased knowledge and skills will have on them.