Other than the basic professional qualifications of a general career, the concept of continuing education is about participating in a lifelong learning process that engages both the theoretical aspect of one’s profession and the practical part. The world is constantly evolving with regards to technological and scientific discoveries. It means that among other things, there are by far too many new things to be learnt. Given the fact that there are still more discoveries being made, perhaps, learning should not at any point stop. In the mechanical engineering profession, for example, people are constantly discovering better engine configurations among other things with regards to efficiency and speed in automobiles. It means that professionals in the industry must be able to stay up to speed with the new theories and apply the knowledge in their work for better performance. For instance, in the aviation industry, there are new discoveries being made with regards to security and engine efficiency. The political scientists also have to continue education because new arguments are being shaped by new events in people’s daily lives. The health profession is not any different since there are new medicines and therapies being unveiled on a regular basis, and the fact that one has qualified to practice does not mean that they know everything. It is, thus, important for relatively all professions to continue education.
As with any proposal, continuing education has numerous benefits for all professionals, including the health care professionals. In more ways than one, consumers require the very best at all times kinds of goods or services. It means that as a part of being relevant and useful to whichever category one works with, continuing education is mandatory for all professionals. From teachers, doctors, nurses, pilots, lawyers, political scientists, philosophers to even litterateurs, the only way to be and to remain relevant and effective is to be up to speed with the changing needs and expectations of the consumers and the changing face of technology. This paper discusses the concept of continuing education both in general and specifically amongst health care professionals.
Generally, education is considered to be a continuous process in which people are constantly learning new things within their respective fields. While in school, most courses focus on imparting the basic knowledge into the students so that they can think along the right lines and behave in accordance with the professional ethics (Institute of Medicine, 2011). It means that school only lays the foundation for a given profession by setting the students apart from the general population with regards to their understanding of the field, within which they intend to operate. Once out of the confines of school, professionals are expected to not only practice their trade but also gain more knowledge in the field to make them better at what they do. That is why while most employers are attracted to first class honors, they often do not restrict themselves to such degree holders in their recruitment drives. They consider the kind of work one engages in after school, meaning that this is far more important than the years spent in the educational establishment. It means that it is generally important for professionals to spend time outside the system well with regards to learning more about their field of interest as opposed to being comfortable with what they have. The main justification for this attitude amongst employers is that what one learns while on their own is more likely to stick with them than what they learnt in the system. While in school, the motivation was to pass exams and yet outside, it is more about knowing what to do within the working area.
Continuing education enables the professional to stay up to date with the changing technologies as well as the evolving needs and expectations of the consumers. Over the past few decades, science and technology have proven their dynamism, especially with regards to the speed at which new information is found. People at the top of scientific study in every field are constantly working to make the lives of others better in every aspect. In technology, new gadgets that make life better are being created on a very frequent basis. These include equipment that is used in the medical field, education, engineering and even the legal field. Generally, every profession is changing its face in light of the technological discoveries being made each day. It means that professionals must be up to date at all times to insure that they are able to provide their clients with the best practices for the best possible outcomes.
Scientific evidence changes the way work is done. In the health care profession, calls for evidence-based practice have been rampant and pivotal in the courses on offer (Institute of Medicine, 2011). It means that scientific proof is often the best determinant of the best available professional practice. It can be applied in other fields as well, including engineering and aeronautics among others. Evidently, one needs to be in a learning mode if they are to learn about the new scientific studies that are being conducted all over the world. It basically implies that continuing education is the only way that one can be fully informed about any existing scientific evidence that have an impact on their practice.
In the health care profession, there seems to be a gap between best practice and common practice. Common practice is largely outdated and often passed on from the tutors in class. Apparently, this is what the young professionals carry with them through their years of service. As a result, they are stuck in the past with regards to how they handle their patients. With the new discoveries being made in the field, it can be stated that these professionals have to get out of their comfort zones and embrace the new methods within their respective fields. However, this cannot just happen, they have to get back out there and learn by whatever means available. On a general perspective, the tutors are not responsible for them being stuck in the past. Students are often given the kind of material that is relevant at the time, and the dynamism of a field of study implies the need to be on the lookout for new developments all the time. Thus, continuing education bridges the gap between the profession’s best practices and its common practices by insuring that the people involved are always up to speed and well-versed in the best practices.
In the health care profession, there should not be a difference between patient care and the outcomes. The best practices, especially evidence-based ones, should be predictable with regards to the outcomes. It means that health care professionals should be able to do the right thing at all times if they are to give their patients the best care available. However, to do this, they must be knowledgeable with regards to the best health care practices at the time. In most cases, it would be assumed that they learnt all these while being at school. Nevertheless, knowing the health care profession, its dependence on evidence-based practice, and the dynamic nature of the medical sciences field, it follows that one would expect their health care providers to be at the forefront of information. Continuing education enables the professionals to carry out the right procedures and routines when dealing with their patients, thus insuring that the outcomes will be as expected.
Scientific research is constantly being conducted in each field. The scientists of the world are currently committed to making the lives of the people better in every way. It means that they are always coming up with more effective ways of dealing with every human challenge. From fast cars to renewable energy and even fortified immunity, it has been seen that the scientific community is constantly outdoing itself. In the health care sector, machines are constantly invented to aid in the provision of quality health care. Such machines are complex in their operations and often require one to be trained thoroughly before they can use them safely and effectively. In some cases, it would be expected for the scientists to be the ones operating these machines, but it makes more sense for the health care professionals to be able to do it for themselves. It means that health care practitioners must always be on the lookout for any relevant inventions that are related to their field of work. For example, ophthalmologists should be able to use the most modern machines with regards to their field as opposed to sticking to the old methods that they learnt at school. Continuing education in this case enables the practitioner to be sufficient in their field so that they will not need to employ the services of technical personnel to operate machinery that is used in their specialty.
Clinical practice must be able to meet the specific needs and expectations of the patients. It means that practitioners need to know these needs and expectations in order to insure that the services are appreciated. When a patient visits a health care provider, they expect to find a person who is thorough with regards to their knowledge about health issues. It is always reassuring for the patient to find a health care provider who has ample information on a wide range of health problems so that they can consult easily and more confidently. However, the health care field is constantly transforming with the changing landscape of the world. As people change their lifestyles and their diets, the health problems that they face also change. Moreover, with the easy access to information, people are also more knowledgeable as they research widely on their problems before seeking the opinion of a health care practitioner. Another major challenge to clinical practice is the rise of alternative medicine that is seemingly more efficient than the conventional one. All these challenges can be turned into the opportunity with the help of updated information. Practitioners can use the knowledge of their patients to learn more and to convince the patient of the best practices (Swansburg, 1995). For example, knowing all the available forms of alternative medicine would enable the professional to explain to the patient the benefits and demerits of each one so that they can make the best choice based on their specific situation. Continuing education, in this regard, enables the practitioner to know the right approach when handling a new condition as well as the right path to choose when weighing between alternative approaches to a condition. Furthermore, it can help reassure the patient that they know what they are doing and that they are in safe hands. Information, in this regard, is truly the key to many doors.
The legal aspect of health care is also dynamic so that what may be legal today may be termed illegal tomorrow. As the health sector gets more involved in policy making, the legal framework that dictates the regulatory laws within the profession is also likely to change. Considering the concept that the ideas of the ruling class are leading ideas and the fact that this class is constantly changing in world politics implies that the leading ideas are also prone to change frequently. It is, thus, important to be updated in the field in order to avoid being on the wrong side of the law. Therefore, continuing education is important since it enables the practitioner to know the rules and regulations that dictate how they conduct their practice.
The objective of a good health care practitioner is to insure that their practice is geared towards safe and good quality care that is patient centric in its orientation (Swansburg, 1995). Generally, this would mean that the practitioner is aimed at meeting all of their patient’s needs in terms of health care. To do this, both effectively and efficiently, health care practitioners need to be fully conversant with the diverse needs and expectations of the patients. If, for example, a patient is diagnosed with a minor condition that can be considered a symptom of another more serious condition, the practitioner should be able to inform them of a need for more tests as opposed to not knowing this. Patients often do not know what is wrong with them and they need and expect their health care providers to take care of their health issues for them. That is why they take time out of their schedules to go through medical checkups. Continuing education would imply that the practitioner understands the diverse needs of the patients and is able to give them what they need without having to appear clueless at any given time.
Continuing education is a concept that has driven the health care sector for a long time now. Professionals are constantly encouraged to learn more as they practice their trade to insure that they remain relevant to their patients and colleagues. Considering the dynamic nature of the medical sciences field, it is very dangerous for professionals to lag behind in their education. The procedures and best practices are constantly being reviewed and improved for best outcomes, thus implying that the practitioners must be up to speed on the latest studies and data. With regards to technology, the new inventions and discoveries are meant to make the profession more efficient in health care and, thus, the practitioner must capitalize on this advantage by learning the most about them and knowing how to use them for the best outcomes. In the legal department, the knowledge of the developments protects one from getting into trouble with the law. The reason is that there is a considerable number of cases in which patients or their families sued their health care providers for negligence and bad practices that are contrary to their expectations and the law. It only highlights the importance of understanding the rules and regulations in the health care profession. While most people would assume that continuing education implies going back to school, it is important to note that it is not entirely so. Going back to school for more advanced education is good for one’s career development, but it is not the only way to stay up to speed with regards to one’s practice. Regular refresher courses, national and local professional meetings, seminars and workshops as well as professional periodicals and online media are all good ways of staying ahead within the health care profession. These methods are often sufficient to insure that the changing world does not leave a professional behind and make them irrelevant to their patients and colleagues.