Putting knowledge and skills acquisition into clinical practice requires meaningful staff engagement. This involves acknowledging the time required for educational activities, communicating clearly about the “why” and “how” of the clinical training, and connecting the dots between the training initiative and the organization’s mission to provide high-quality, person-centered care to patients with serious illness.

The following tips have been used by health care organizations to cultivate staff engagement and drive clinical skills development.

Clearly articulate the goals of the training initiative.

  • How will a patient’s experience of care improve if clinicians acquire new skills?
  • What are the patient care priorities driving the education initiative?
  • What are the desired clinical practice changes?
  • Explain why specific training topics are encouraged by role.

Tie the initiative to available data. For example:

  • Clinician-reported comfort level related to care of patients with serious illness
  • Patient satisfaction or experience scores
  • Clinical outcome measures

CAPC survey data demonstrating improvements in clinician knowledge, skill, and comfort as well as changes in practice

Remove barriers. Make it as easy as possible for staff to access CAPC courses.

  • Use CAPC’s Training Assignments to create and assign customized Learning Pathways, and give feasible deadlines. For practicing clinicians, CAPC recommends no more than two online courses per week. For new hires who have dedicated education time, two courses per day is a reasonable pace to maintain momentum while not overloading.
  • Regularly share instructions for creating CAPC user accounts.

If possible, create protected times during the workday for staff to complete training.

Align training with the personal and professional goals of clinician learners.

  • Highlight the CEs and ABIM MOC credits available with CAPC courses. Remind learners that CAPC courses can be used to fulfill certification and licensure requirements for free.

Use active, personalized language to explain what content areas the training addresses. For example, these courses fill common education gaps and increase your comfort, knowledge, and skill in:

  • Understanding the hopes, fears, goals, and preferences of patients and their families
  • Having difficult conversations about prognosis, disease trajectory, and goals of care
  • Supporting patients and caregivers through the experience of serious illness
  • Relieving emotional, social, and physical suffering
  • Describing the role of palliative care in patient care
  • Coordinating care to prevent crises

Provide clinician testimonials about the training regarding improvements in comfort, skill, outcomes, and practice. Doctors listen to doctors; nurses trust nurses.

  • Ask for reviews of the courses, and include them in regular communications to clinician learners (e.g., staff bulletins or newsletters).

Competition works! Comparing CAPC completion rates between departments or groups promotes friendly competition.

  • Hold a contest: One organization saw a 600% jump in course completions during a contest for a Fitbit.

Celebrate learner accomplishments. Staff taking the time to improve skills should be recognized.

  • Acknowledge learners who achieve CAPC Designation, or who reach other education milestones set by your organization, via internal newsletters or shout-outs at team meetings.

Supplement training activities with team discussions, or pair them with peers to debrief.

  • Did anything in the training confuse or surprise them? What is one insight or pearl they came away with?
  • Have clinical staff had past patient encounters that they would handle differently now, given what they’ve learned?
  • For a given patient case example, what would be the role of the physician in addressing patient suffering and quality of life? And the nurse? And the social worker?

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