The Biggest Challenge for Healthcare Education Programs and Their Leadership

Bob Sweeney, MS, DACompany News, Group Education, Medical Schools, Nursing Programs, Residency Programs

What's The Biggest Challenge for Healthcare Education Programs and Their Leadership

The Biggest Challenge for Healthcare Education Programs and Their Leadership

Med-Challenger, the leading brand in online medical education, asked physician leaders nationwide to identify the single most time-consuming and costly challenger for their healthcare education program and leadership.

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Whether you are directing an institutional training program or seeking to ensure the best possible care throughout an organization, there are many components to successful healthcare education, systemic continuing education, and real-time quality assurance.

These components - onboarding incoming students or employees, maintaining quality curricula resources, testing practitioner knowledge quality, remediating struggling students or staff, and supporting continuing certification and program improvement - each present their own challenges.

But which one is the most time-consuming and costly to healthcare education programs and their leadership?

What Do Physician Leaders Identify as the Biggest Challenge for Healthcare Education Programs?

Physician leaders nationwide identify remediation as the single most time-consuming and costly challenger for healthcare education programs and their leadership.

Darrell Washington, MD, GME Medical Director at UCLA, where there are nearly 5000 residents in one program or another, has argued that providing reliable and accurate remediation for failing residents is the key investment that the institution could make in learning if they could be confident in the effectiveness of their purchase.

Randy Cordle, MD, a vastly experienced educator in the Carolina Medical Centers system asserts that the key factor in a more than 50 turnover rate in program directors every two years nationwide is time required to remediate outlier performers.  Yet another physician executive, Sandip Godambe, MD, of Kings Daughters Childrens Hospital in Norfolk, calls ineffective remediation "the Achilles heel of formal healthcare education programs."

"Ineffective remediation is the Achilles heel of formal healthcare education programs."

Sandip Godambe, MD

The True Goals of Healthcare Education are Learning and Retention

Part of the problem here is that, for decades, resources allocated to learning programs in medicine and associated fields such as nursing and PA instruction have obsessively focused on preparing learners for tests.  It's difficult to find any commercial or public healthcare education offering that doesn't feature foremost its role or value as a means of preparing for tests. 

However, evidence shows clear that test preparation techniques have a poor correlation with actually learning and retaining content.  

These approaches may help a student pass a given test on a given day, but the information learned in this way has a fast decay rate.  A month later, the learner has forgotten much of what he or she learned to pass the test.  This conundrum is particularly painful for those who have difficulties learning or retaining information in the first place.  Not only will they struggle on tests, but they remain deficient in the competencies that are required to be a competent practitioner.  

Med-Challenger online healthcare education provides automatic remediation to students and providers.

Image: Med-Challenger's online clinical education and testing platform provides prescriptive remediation, improving healthcare education program outcomes.

The Cost and Effect of Systemic Remediation within Healthcare Education

These insights are beginning to have an effect.  In a recent exchange of ideas, Trish Coady, RN, Senior VP for Clinical Education at HealthStream, observed that "the problem with nursing education curricula is that they don't teach you to actually retain the content you study."  

HealthStream is a national education company serving over 3000 hospitals nationwide.  

Med-Challenger courses stand out from the pack with respect to the remediation challenge.  Unlike their competitors, the Med-Challenger curricula are built on evidence-based learning principles, not the fashionable but unreliable  "axioms" passed down by word of mouth or example.  

As a result, Med-Challenger methods, when employed systematically for a minimum of three years, can virtually eliminate failure problems related to content acquisition and retention.  For a cost of less than $800 per learner over that time frame, healthcare education programs can avoid training, replacement and other costs amounting to tens of thousands of dollars per remediation case.

It would seem to be really a no-brainer from a cost-benefit perspective.  However, as with any innovation, there are significant cultural, historical and bureaucratic obstacles to introducing this kind of methodology.   

Teaching is the quintessential professional activity where the fact that you are a content expert yourself doesn't mean you have the skills or methods to teach that content effectively to others.   The difficulty is masked by the reality that many, even a majority of, learners will likely succeed in a structured healthcare education program. 

Over their lives, they have acquired test-taking skills and their own means of acquiring and retaining knowledge.   

But what about the real minority of learners who don't have those built-in abilities? 

Do we abandon them as failures? 

Or, can we view helping them to succeed as an investment in professional labor worthy of a fairly nominal cost?  


The clinical program director who currently, by some estimates spends two hours per session in efforts to remediate failing learners in their healthcare education program is at risk for burnout themselves. 

If they had access to an easy-to-use online teaching and tracking system that saved hours and served as a reliable indicator of progress, perhaps their professional lies would be easier.  Those benefits would also extend to the learner and the teaching institution as well.

Systemic Education Quality made easy.

Med-Challenger Healthcare Education Platform

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