Finding Time for Learning & Development in Healthcare

Updated on December 12, 2023
Medical students listening sitting at desk at the university

The healthcare industry is a fast-paced and at times, stressful, environment. Inevitably, this environment can take its toll on employees with over half of U.S. health workers reporting feeling stressed, overworked, and ready to leave their jobs. On top of burnout, healthcare workers are also known for working long hours. As of April 2022, 266,900 healthcare workers reported working overtime — the highest number reported yet.

Despite the chaotic nature of the industry and rising burnout rates, it is still important to prioritize learning and development in an industry as important as healthcare. When faced with ever-changing regulations, adoption of new technology, insurance updates and more, healthcare workers need to be provided with up-to-date, real-time training.

But, where can employees find the time to make this a priority? 

The Power of Just-in-Time Training

There are plenty of reasons why healthcare workers would need or want to participate in workplace training from compliance training to career development, and while goals might be different, the time-consuming nature of training remains the same. This is where just-in-time training comes into play.

Just-in-time training is a time-sensitive form of instruction that allows employees to access training that supports their work the moment they need it. By developing materials that can be accessed on a learners’ own time when they need, employers can cut down on an organization’s budget by reducing its dependence on lengthier, and typically more expensive, courses. Not only that, but it also increases workplace productivity and reduces burnout by providing a way for employees to learn easier on their own time, creating a culture of continuous learning.

While just-in-time training may be different from other training modalities employers typically rely on, there are ways employers can overcome this hurdle while contributing to better productivity. Below are three ways learning & development (L&D) professionals can implement just-in-time training within the healthcare industry:

Consider Accessibility When Designing Training Content

When designing training content, it’s important to consider the needs and preferences of today’s diverse population of learners. Therefore, L&D professionals must think outside of the box and consider all of the different ways their learners may need to access the training content.L&D professionals can design an inclusive training program in a variety of ways, including by:

  • Designing multimedia content that can be accessed in different formats so learners can leverage assistive technologies that accommodate diverse learning needs and disabilities.
  • Providing training content in formats that allow employees to access it from anywhere, including both mobile and desktop compatibility.
  • Developing interactive and scenario-based learning modules that simulate real-life medical situations to accommodate employees who learn better through interactive training content.
  • Providing microlearning opportunities for employees who lack the time or ability to consume long-form training content.

By prioritizing accessibility in training content design, L&D professionals not only ensure equal training opportunities for all learners, but also foster a more inclusive and effective learning environment within their business. Considering the varied needs and preferences of healthcare workers when creating training materials is fundamental in promoting continuous education and improving the overall quality of patient care.

Anticipate The Need For Just-In-Time Training

L&D professionals are not fortune tellers, but they can anticipate areas where just-in-time training may be necessary by working alongside leaders to identify where their teams need support and keeping their fingers on the pulse of industry trends and changes. Examples of these areas in the healthcare sector may include:

  • Technology Integration: Just-in-time training can be designed to help employees quickly adapt to and effectively use any new technology or medical equipment.
  • Changes in Industry Regulations: Changes in medical protocols, guidelines, and regulations often require immediate adaptation by healthcare professionals. Just-in-time training can ensure timely staff compliance.
  • Disease Outbreaks: In the event of a disease outbreak, the quick spread of information to healthcare professionals and patient care providers is critical. Just-in-time training can educate healthcare workers on treatments, safety protocols, and other necessary procedures.
  • Areas of Improvement in Patient Care: Just-in-time training can be developed to address the need for enhanced communication skills, empathy training, or specialized care for specific patient demographics.
  • Operational Changes: Changes in procedures, emergency protocols, or shifts in processes may demand immediate retraining. L&D professionals can work together with team leaders to prepare relevant training for the affected staff.

Anticipating these scenarios allows L&D professionals to develop targeted, immediate training programs to ensure healthcare workers are well-equipped to handle new challenges as they arise. By collaborating with team leaders, L&D professionals can identify and address any areas where just-in-time training is essential for the ongoing professional development of healthcare teams.

Keep Content Relevant 

Just-in-time training is intended to address real-time challenges, and with the demands healthcare professionals face, their time is limited. Therefore, L&D professionals should ensure the relevance of training content by adhering to essential information while building resources. It’s important to design content that covers what learners need to know, quickly delivering critical information and empowering healthcare workers to apply the knowledge immediately. This targeted strategy not only facilitates quick comprehension but also maximizes the efficiency of just-in-time training within healthcare settings, where immediate and accurate decision-making is crucial.

The healthcare industry’s evolving landscape, from regulatory changes to technological advancements, requires the delivery of up-to-date, real-time training for healthcare workers. And with time being of the essence in healthcare, just-in-time training has emerged as a solution. By proactively anticipating needs and delivering relevant and accessible content when necessary, L&D professionals play a vital role in the ongoing professional development of healthcare teams by helping them navigate this landscape and ultimately decreasing burnout and increasing overall productivity.

Stefaniak headshot copy
Dr. Jill Stefaniak
Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Learning, Design, and Technology Program at University of Georgia

Jill Stefaniak is the Chief Learning Officer at Litmos. Her interests focus on the professional development of L&D professionals and instructional design decision-making. She also serves as an Associate Professor in the Learning, Design, and Technology program at the University of Georgia. This content represents the opinions of Jill Stefaniak. It carries no endorsement of the University of Georgia.