If clinical skills are the critical machinery for health care providers, personal development is the fuel that runs the machinery more effectively. After all, health care providers approach patients as human being as well as a professional. While it is true that technology advances are so rapid that it is a challenge to simply keep up with the latest research and procedures, focusing education exclusively on clinical skills is not always the smartest investment of time and money. Offering education that strengthens personal development and interpersonal skills is crucial not only for health care providers, but also to organizations.
Ten valuable reasons why a health care organization must offer non-clinical education:
- Create work-life balance. In a 2006 industry survey, 63% of medical residents said the availability of free time was causing them “a significant level of concern” as they entered the profession, up from 15% in 2001.
- Leverage clinical skills with non-clinical training. A Dale Carnegie study revealed that 85% of success is dependent on self-management and interpersonal skills, while 15% is dependent on technical skills. This doesn’t mean that clinical training can be neglected, but the best clinical skills and knowledge doesn’t mean much if self-management and interpersonal skills are lacking.
- Improve well-being. As of January of 2001, The Joint Commission requires health care organizations have a process in place to address physicians’ well-being. Topics such as stress control, work-life balance and time management, just to mention a few, are excellent non-clinical topics that help maximize performance while addressing personal well-being.
- Keep pace with a constantly changing health care environment. Just like a skyscraper has a stronger foundation than a small private home, a health care provider has to have a strong personal foundation to weather the storm and changes in health care. Investing time in personal development is the foundation for professional success and personal well-being.
- Decrease malpractice risk. Continuing education in communication and relationship building decreases the risk of medical malpractice. Studies have shown that patients are far less likely to sue a physician with whom they have a good relationship.
- Strengthen teamwork. As the American health care system moves away from the old standard of a single doctor handling a patient’s needs towards a more team-based approach, continuing education on strengthening effective communication, teamwork and self-management is essential. A team is only as strong as its weakest link. By investing in the cooperation between staff, nurses and physicians, medical errors decrease and job satisfaction increases.
- Prevent early retirement. Healthcare providers who possess the tools to prevent burnout and who enjoy a rewarding personal life outside of work are far less likely leave medicine prematurely. They have the energy to enjoy their life while continuing their profession.
- Bolster job satisfaction. Health care providers who are working in a harmonious environment with effective teamwork and cooperation enjoy increased job satisfaction which in turn decreases staff turnover and its expenses.
- Limit disruptive behavior. Disruptive behavior causes stress, anxiety, frustration and anger, which can impede communication and collaboration, resulting in avoidable medical errors, adverse events, and other compromises in quality care. Health care organizations can integrate preventative training and education for stress control, communication skills and teamwork to reinforce appropriate standards of behavior.
- Prevention is the best medicine. Problems, obstacles, and bumps in the road are part of life. Without the skills needed to respond to them, they can be more difficult. Individuals who are dedicated to their personal development deal more effectively with problems and recognize options to turn problems into opportunities.
The old way of practicing medicine is shifting toward a new paradigm. Investing in the personal growth and interpersonal skills of health care professionals will accelerate the change process and results in more effective and successful health care organizations.