Practice, practice, practice…
Training is not an isolated event, it’s a process. While the basics can be discussed and tasks practiced in a single scheduled training session, repetition is essential to truly master tasks.
Think of driving:
The initial stages are already complicated. You study the manual, pass a theory exam, drive with an instructor, and take the practical exam (possibly multiple times!) and then you win the prize: your driver’s license. Game over, right? Wrong.
- You really learn to drive by spending time behind the wheel. Depending on the availability of a vehicle and necessity to drive, this may happen months, if not years, after getting a license.
- Even as an experienced driver, changes in environment or equipment will result in an initial state of confusion as you renew your knowledge and skills. For instance, when driving on the opposite side of the road, with a manual transmission instead of an automatic, or even for the first time in many years. The chance of accident or significant error during this stage is high.
People tend to shrug off these last stages, but they are vitally important.
Does ‘one skill fit all’?
When it comes to skills using medical equipment, the general perception is that if you’ve learned the basics of one implement, mastering the use of anything similar is a piece of cake. Is that true? Think, for instance, of these elements:
- There several different learning styles, for instance: unfocused, reproduction-, meaning-, or application-oriented. We’ll address these learning styles more thoroughly in a future blog.
- Age and background play a role in the most effective learning style, what is efficient for the manual dexterity of a 20-year old video game fan, may be ineffective for someone with deeply engrained habits. Another approach to new skills acquisition may be needed for those with years of experience, sometimes overcoming deep-rooted practices.
- Similar to driving, to fully assimilate the necessary techniques, you must utilize the skills that you learn in training quickly and extensively.
In summary, isn’t it time to step back and reflect on your institution’s current training practices? Take a brutally honest look, examining whether they:
- address a variety learning styles.
- take scheduling and other logistic challenges into account: are your training practices convenient and flexible enough to provide training opportunities when time allows? If practice is unsuccessful at first, can members stop and, when revitalized, easily return to it at a later moment?
- allocate enough time to allow for the practice necessary for true skill’s acquisition.
Do your current training practices really allow for ‘practice, practice, practice,’ and ‘try, try again?’