Addressing the need for continuing education in healthcare

By Philips ∙ Bir 01, 2020 ∙ 4 min read


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Healthcare is first and foremost a people business, and the ability to provide quality care depends on the ability of the healthcare organization to ensure that it has the right professionals with the right skills in the right place at the right time.

This article focuses on:

  • The importance of prioritizing training, including the development of continuous medical education programs
  • Younger healthcare professionals' perceptions of gaps in their knowledge
  • The needs of the workforce of the future
  • The benefits of continuous medical education

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Continuing education has never been higher on senior leaders' agendas, as changes in technology, business models and capabilities create both the demand and an appetite for life-long learning. And yet they find themselves in a bind. With escalating financial pressures and short-term constraints, it is difficult to justify spending on education and training beyond the essential. This comes at a time when there is an inexorable rise in demand for healthcare, a shortage of appropriately skilled staff and a rising rate of medical professional burnout.

Why continuing education is vital for younger health professionals

Despite 75% of CEOs1 worldwide agreeing that a skilled, educated and adaptable workforce should be a key priority, there is a growing lack of experienced and well-trained staff in the healthcare environment around the world. Commissioned annually by Philips, The Future Health Index 2020 highlights that younger healthcare professionals are aware of future gaps in their careers, citing four key areas a s needing input. These areas - indentified by 2,867 healthcare professionals under the age of 40 from 15 countries - are skills, knowledge, data and expectations.1

Skills: 44% of young professionals say their medical education has not prepared them at all for business administration tasks.


Knowledge: 78% of young professionals only know ''value-based care'' by name/ a little or nothing at all about it.


Data: 35% of young professionals don't know how to use digital patient data to inform patient care and are overwhelmed by the amount of digital patient data.


Expectations: 41% disagree or neither agree nor disagree that the reality of their career lives up to their hopes and expectations.

Changing roles, evolving skills, new working styles

Even for those working in non-patient care or clinical roles, technology, regulations and best practices in business and leadership change rapidly and require continual review and retooling. Research indicates that the workforce of the future will need new combinations of cognitive, emotional and analytical skills.

According to the World Economic Forum, ''social skills - such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others - will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills such as programming or equipment operation and control. Content skills (which include ICT literacy and active learning), cognitive abilities (such as creativity and mathematical reasoning) and process skills (such as active listening and critical thinking) will be a growing part of the core skills requirements for many industries.''2

Core work-related skills, according to the World Economic Forum and based on the O_NET Content Model are:


  • Abilities
  • Basic skills
  • Process skills
  • Social skills
  • System skills
  • Complex problem-solving skills
  • Resource management skills
  • Technical skills

Instructor with clinicians in training

Creating the ideal healthcare working environment

Smarter and more flexible working environments are key to attracting talent. Other than salary, younger healthcare professionals cite factors around collaboration, autonomy and technology are important when choosing a hospital or practice in which to work.1


  • 89% cite workplace culture
  • 88% cite latest equipment/technologies
  • 79% cite reputation
  • 75% cite work/life balance


The benefits of continuous medical education

Here are just some of things to keep in mind when considering the benefits of an ongoing learning approach:


Tap into the learning lifestyle: Adopting lifelong learning as a lifestyle choice - not just a means to keeping our jobs - can provide benefits well beyond our caregiving and professional commitments.


Keep up to date and upskill as needed: New technologies and the proliferation and reorganization of roles require new capabilities.


Plan for future of work: In order to manage the technological innovation and the transformation of healthcare, senior leaders will need to move to creating a culture of employee participation and foster collaboration and innovation.


Keep medical minds open: There is always more to learn to ensure that the care provided is up to date.


New models of continuous healthcare education: New technologies coupled with the global COVID-19 pandemic marked a shift to e-learning, enabling more cost-effective and results-driven possibilities.


Highly skilled and educated staff: The advantages of investing into continuous education are obvious: highly skilled staff, high staff retention, an excellent organizational reputation, optimized financial performance, better patient outcomes and a reduction in litigation.

Invest in continuing learning to show your commitment to clinical staff

Establishing comprehensive clinical education programs now can contribute to improved staff satisfaction and retention into the future. New skill and competency development facilitates the transition to value-based care and the adoption of new technology and workflows. Using a blended learning approach with data, analytics and behavioral insights combined with a mix of on-site and virtual learning is helpful to enhancing training accessibility as your workforce evolves over time.


Addressing the need and opportunities for continuing education among healthcare professionals

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[1] The Future Health Index is commissioned by Philips. The 2020 study comprises original research via a survey of 2,867 healthcare professionals under the age of 40 years old across 15 countries: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa and the United States of America.

[2] Future of Jobs Report: Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum, January 2016.

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