How Can We Improve Healthcare Education?

The educational aspect of the healthcare industry doesn’t get as much attention as it should. The reason for this is pretty simple. The majority of people never interact with it. And yet schools are where doctors and nurses are taught everything they know. It’s how they form the opinions and attitudes that they carry with them into their professional lives.

In other words, it’s important. In this article, we take a look at how we can improve healthcare education to make the field more effective and inclusive while also improving patient outcomes.

A Quick Note

Improve is a profoundly subjective word. A case could be made that changing the font on medical textbooks improves healthcare education. “My goodness! So much bigger. You don’t have to squint at all.”

Obviously not the metric most people are looking at. But you get the point. What does it mean to improve healthcare education? Better patient outcomes? A better student learning culture?

In the nineties, med school residents routinely worked one-hundred-hour weeks. Those hours have now been capped at 80 a week — still twice the national average for what most people think a work week should be, but progress. An improvement.

To systematically review and evaluate healthcare in a way that would comprehensively establish what improvements can and should be made would take more than the thousand or so words that this article will contain.

Instead, we take a broad-stroke look at changes that could make healthcare education more accessible and effective.

Tech-Driven Education

Medical technology has changed significantly over the last several decades. Surgery can now be performed largely by robots. Much more than a mere novelty — another way for a hospital to spend seven figures on a machine — these robots produce significantly smaller cuts than human hands can manage.

This results in quicker recovery times, and better overall patient outcomes.

Software innovations have been equally impactful. Data in particular drives many healthcare-related decisions, determining both how hospitals serve their communities at the macro level, and how nurses and doctors take care of individual patients.

During the height of the pandemic, it was sophisticated data that helped healthcare systems anticipate surges and prepare themselves for what was to come.

Data is also used more routinely throughout the course of the year. When a general practitioner advises their patients to get the flu shot early because it’s going to be a rough season, that’s data they are acting on.

Then there is the digitalization of healthcare records. An innovative development that allows patients to access their information easily, and have it on hand at the drop of a hat.

All important innovations. All things that weren’t taught in a medical education curriculum twenty years ago.

Naturally, this has changed somewhat in recent years. People do leave medical or nursing school with some understanding of all the technologies described above. As time goes on, however, it will be increasingly more important to emphasize the importance of these skills.

Improved Candidate Outreach

Healthcare providers in the United States are primarily white. This is problematic for several reasons. For minorities, it means they are being excluded from a career path that is both highly lucrative and rewarding. For—

Hold on. Excluded? Is there a sign medical schools have been posting that reads, “No minorities allowed,”?

Well, no. But inclusion is about more than leaving the door open and saying, “enter if you’d like.” It’s important to keep in mind that opportunities for inclusion in medicine, and in fact, most professional careers is a relatively recent development. For most of American history were laws and social taboos that excluded everyone who wasn’t a white man from pursuing lucrative careers.

These laws and attitudes have changed, but it doesn’t mean that inclusion springs up overnight. Bright young minorities who could be excellent future doctors might not feel inclined to pursue a medical education if they don’t see themselves reflected in the candidate pool.

That’s a shame for everyone. Study after study indicates that diversity benefits everyone. Organizations get unique perspectives. The community at large sees itself represented in the people serving them.

Universities can improve diversity attendance by changing their outreach materials and efforts to be more inclusive and comprehensive.

Improve School Culture

The higher education system in general is coming to recognize the need for mental health awareness and nurturing. Those one hundred-hour work weeks described earlier in the article aren’t conducive to good physical or mental outcomes.

Does it make sense to train a person on how to take care of human health while simultaneously forcing them to wreck their own?

Medical schools can’t afford to relax their standards. The stakes are too high, and anyway, the educational challenges are there as a deliberate barrier to ensure that only the best and most qualified wind up assuming jobs in the medical field.

That said, medical and nursing schools can provide students with resources to help talk about and take care of their mental health. Changing school culture is an important way to cater to the neurologically diverse, while also helping the wider population thrive in their education.

With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

3 Reasons to Become an Online Educator as a Medical Professional

If you’re a medical professional looking for a side gig in 2020, online education might be the right choice for you. Read about it here.

By Cristian Gallegos

In the 21st century, innovation in technology has given us, as a society, a platform to access essentially all the information in the world almost instantaneously. This immediate information, which is used in almost everything we do, can be leveraged in ways that weren’t previously available. One of the largest industries utilizing this technology in education. The shift in education to an online service has made it more accessible to those who can’t afford a traditional education and for those who operate on a schedule that isn’t conducive to a classroom, not to mention that the industry is expected to grow by approximately 11% in the next ten years.

In addition to education becoming more accessible to students, teachers, especially those working in their industry, can now work on a more flexible schedule. No longer is it necessary to commute to a school in order to give students the proper education necessary to prepare them for the workforce. Here are 3 reasons healthcare professionals should consider becoming an online educator in their field.

1. A Flexible Schedule

Having a flexible schedule is likely one of the most important things for a medical professional. As someone who is working a day (or night) job in their field, it can be incredibly difficult to make a commitment to teaching full (or part) time in a physical classroom.

2. Additional Income

One of the best reasons to become a teacher is the additional income. Although educators don’t traditionally have the highest income, as a side-gig, becoming an online educator is a great way to earn a few extra bucks.

3. Sense of Giving Back

Becoming an educator can be rewarding. For a student, having a student-teacher relationship can have a great impact on their scholarly experience. Becoming a mentor for a student can become a reality in online teaching more often than people realize. Even though there isn’t much face-to-face interaction, you’d be surprised at the relationships you build during your time as an educator.

What It Takes to Become an Online Educator

If you’re considering becoming an online educator there are a few things you should know before jumping in.

First of all, being an online educator requires a lot of experience with technology. Unlike a traditional teaching position, there typically aren’t IT resources immediately available when teaching online, therefore, being capable when working with technology is essential.

Second, having a knack for preparation is going to play a big role in the success of an online educator. Teaching requires the compliment of many resources, which is time-consuming, but essential for a class to operate.

The third, and more arbitrary trait, is the ability to work well with people. As an educator, working with students is going to be 90% of your job, and the better relationships you have with those students, the more smoothly your classes will go.

Getting into online education is not for everyone, however, if you think you’d be the right fit it could be great to get into as a way to earn a little extra money on the side. Be sure to do your research and determine if you have the right personality for the job!

Cristian Gallegos is a freelance writer living in Salt Lake City. He writes all things healthcare, technology, and IT. When he isn’t at home writing, you can find him skiing the slopes of the Wasatch mountains.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Harness the Power of Neuroscience to Make Learning (or Teaching) Medicine More Efficient

Advanced practitioners are continually learning, from completing annual CME to hands-on education through daily practice, but medical education does not have to be so hard.

By Jordan G Roberts, PA-C

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying that getting a medical education is akin to sipping water from a fire hose on full blast. There is so much information to learn and so little time in which to learn it all. This affects each of us at all levels of training, from the student to clinician to academician.

If you’re a student, you may relate to the feeling of just trying to keep your head above water. It’s all too easy to drown in information or fall behind if you miss an important lecture or even a single day of studying. It’s even harder at this level because every concept, disease, medication name is completely new and foreign to you.

As practicing clinicians, we need to ensure we are obtaining a certain amount of ongoing, accredited continuing medical education every year. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of doing things they’ve always been done when you don’t keep up as much as you’d like.

And of course, as an educator, it’s almost inevitable that some of the time you’ll struggle to find ways to help certain students academically. How does one teach another to efficiently retain and understand the important concepts crucial to patient care itself?

There is good news. Medical education does not have to be so hard. Researchers and everyday people have been developing and refining a technique that can take anyone’s memory to almost superhuman levels.

And it’s not hype. Peer-reviewed studies have shown this technique to be incredibly successful as well as easy to learn and implement. One trial showed that medical students retained more information in a shorter time period and improved their test scores by a significant margin.

It’s so successful in fact, that there are entire groups of ‘memory athletes’ who compete across the globe to determine who has the strongest hippocampus in the world.

Read More →

Jordan G Roberts, PA-C helps medical education companies create and distribute the best medical education around. He helps students and clinicians improve their clinical game by using his background in neuroscience to teach simple ways to learn complex medical topics. He is a published researcher, national speaker, and medical writer. He can be found at Modern MedEd where he promotes clinical updates, medical writing, and medical education.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

More Nurse Practitioners Now Pursue Residency Programs To Hone Skills

There is a growing cadre of nurse practitioners who tack on up to a year of clinical and other training, often in primary care.

Michelle Andrews

The patient at the clinic was in his 40s and had lost both his legs to Type 1 diabetes. He had mental health and substance abuse problems and was taking large amounts of opioids to manage pain. He was assigned to Nichole Mitchell, who in 2014 was a newly minted nurse practitioner in her first week of a one-year postgraduate residency program at the Community Health Center clinic in Middletown, Conn.

In a regular clinical appointment, “I would have been given 20 minutes with him, and would have been without the support or knowledge of how to treat pain or Type 1 diabetes,” she said.

But her residency program gives the nurse practitioners extra time to assess patients, allowing her to come up with a plan for the man’s care, she said, with a doctor at her side to whom she could put all her questions.

A few years later, Mitchell is still at that clinic and now mentors nurse practitioner residents. She has developed a specialty in caring for patients with HIV and hepatitis C, as well as transgender health care.

The residency program “gives you the space to explore things you’re interested in in family practice,” Mitchell said. “There’s no way I could have gotten that training without the residency.”

Mitchell is part of a growing cadre of nurse practitioners — typically, registered nurses who have completed a master’s degree in nursing — who tack on up to a year of clinical and other training, often in primary care.

Residencies may be at federally qualified health centers, Veterans Affairs medical centers or private practices and hospital systems. Patients run the gamut, but many are low-income and have complicated needs.

Proponents say the programs help prepare new nurse practitioners to deal with the growing number of patients with complex health issues. But detractors say that a standard training program already provides adequate preparation to handle patients with serious health care needs. Nurse practitioners who choose not to do a residency, as the vast majority of the 23,000 who graduate each year do not, are well qualified to provide good patient care, they say.

As many communities, especially rural ones, struggle to attract medical providers, it’s increasingly likely that patients will see a nurse practitioner rather than a medical doctor when they need care. In 2016, nurse practitioners made up a quarter of primary care providers in rural areas and 23 percent in non-rural areas, up from 17.6 and 15.9 percent, respectively, in 2008, according to a study in the June issue of Health Affairs.

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Depending on the state, they may practice independently of physicians or with varying degrees of oversight. Research has shown that nurse practitioners generally provide care that’s comparable to that of doctors in terms of quality, safety and effectiveness.

But their training differs. Unlike the three-year residency programs that doctors must generally complete after medical school in order to practice medicine, nurse practitioner residency programs, sometimes called fellowships, are completely voluntary. Like medical school residents, though, the nurse practitioner residents work for a fraction of what they would make at a regular job, typically about half to three-quarters of a normal salary.

Advocates say it’s worth it.

“It’s a very difficult transition to go from excellent nurse practitioner training to full scope-of-practice provider,” said Margaret Flinter, a nurse practitioner who is senior vice president and clinical director of Community Health Center, a network of community health centers in Connecticut.

“My experience was that too often, too many junior NPs found it a difficult transition, and we lost people, maybe forever, based on the intensity and readiness for seeing people” at our centers.

Flinter started the first nurse practitioner residency program in 2007. There are now more than 50 postgraduate primary care residency programs nationwide, she said. Mentored clinical training is a key part of the programs, but they typically also include formal lectures and clinical rotations in other specialties.

Not everyone is as gung-ho about the need for nurse practitioner residency programs, though.

“There’s a lot of debate within the community,” said Joyce Knestrick, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Knestrick practices in Wheeling, W.Va., a rural area about an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh. She said that there could be a benefit if a nurse practitioner wanted to switch from primary care to work in a cardiology practice, for example. But otherwise she’s not sold on the idea.

A position statement from the Nurse Practitioner Roundtable, a group of professional organizations of which AANP is a member, offered this assessment: “Forty years of patient outcomes and clinical research demonstrates that nurse practitioners consistently provide high quality, competent care. Additional post-graduate preparation is not required or necessary for entry into practice.”

“We already have good outcomes to show that our current educational system has been effective,” Knestrick said. “So I’m not really sure what the benefit is for residencies.”

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.