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What CME Needs: A Healthcare Learner's Bill of Rights


The state of the art when it comes to continuing professional development activities for healthcare professionals once was a room full of learners sitting silently while a lecturer read from slides from a stage. But just as the U.S. Constitution needed amending as the young country developed, resulting in the U.S. Bill of Rights, so does the contract between healthcare learner and CPD provider need to adapt to the ever-shifting U.S. healthcare system.

In a recent MeetingsNet webinar, Jeff Hurt, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting’s executive vice president of education and engagement, outlined the six trends that are driving change in healthcare today, explained how continuing healthcare professional development must shift as well to meet the needs of today’s HCPs, and provided some techniques you can use to align your educational activities with the needs of your HCP learners.

Hurt also collaborated with the webinar audience to develop an “HCP Learner's Bill of Rights.” Here’s what they decided that continuing HCP continuing professional development activities must do:

1. Shift the focus from information delivery and knowledge recall to HCP performance.

2. Be current, valid, reliable, accurate, and evidence-based. This means that not only must the content be scientifically sound, but the way the education is designed should be based on evidence about how people learn.

3. Promote practice improvement and/or patient improvement, not just research findings. You can post the actual scientific data online and reserve the in-person event for finding ways to put the data to work in the real world. The content must be applicable to learners’ daily practice.

4. Be based on adult-learning principles grounded in science/evidence-based education. The spoken word alone will not change behavior and attitudes, Hurt said. “We have to help our speakers understand this and act accordingly.”

5. Be driven by analysis of HCPs’ needs, not commercial interests

6. Result in HCPs’ abilities to teach their patients how to change their attitudes, behaviors, and skills resulting in health and wellness.

7. Support HCPs’ abilities to meet their own individual needs.

8. Respect HCPs’ cognitive load limits and need to understand, as well as how to apply, the new learning. Most conferences try to condense the content and push it at learners at as fast a pace as possible, he said. “But there’s no such thing as bulk learning.” Focus on what they really need to learn at the session, then give them space to work out how to bring it back to their practices.

9. Align with learning methods that apply deep learning (not surface learning), reflection, sense-making, spacing (give them a break, then hit it again from a different perspective later), and simulations.

10. Link theory to practice.

11. Be evaluated for effectiveness in promoting practice and patient improvements, not for how much learners enjoyed the speaker.

12. Be free of promotional, commercial, and/or sales activities.

13. Include disclosures of financial relationships and commercial support.

14. Offer participants the opportunity to ask questions.

15. Include information on how to share the learned information with others in the learners’ practices.

16. Offer access to materials on demand after the conference.

17. Follow up to find out what barriers learners encountered when they tried to put what they learned into practice.

What would you add to the list?

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