Taught but Not Caught
How many times in life have we been taught something, and yet in the immediate future are not able to apply the teaching? The education was delivered or taught, but not caught. This was a profound statement I heard used by a Joint Commission surveyor, that I could definitely relate to over my last 35 years of observation while working within the healthcare environment.
“Taught and not caught,” can result in serious consequences in an environment that cares for human lives. A simple procedure not carried out in a specified way can have devastating outcomes. For example, this may sound harmless, but a temperature log in a medication refrigerator can make a difference in medication being safe to administer, and a positive versus a negative patient outcome.
“Taught but not caught” may result from numerous reasons. The subject content may not resonate at a level needed for mental acquisition. The information may not have been taught in a way that the student can best learn. These are just a few of the many factors that can come into play.
Mental capacity can be challenged due to numerous steps of care to apply in a shift of work. Patient also have unique needs that cannot always be predictable. It is not uncommon for healthcare workers to go into a capacity overload that builds additional stress on the job.
Quality Training Doesn’t Equal Quality Learning
In corporate America, organizations invest time, energy, and mega dollars to teach employees about the service or product that the company is promoting, serving, or selling. Employees usually join a company with some education or experience that meets job requirements, but it takes more ongoing learning and experience in many instances to bring an employee from a novice to an expert.
In healthcare there are thousands of policies and regulatory requirements that demand all colleagues to be knowledgeable. The challenge is not necessarily the educational quality provided, but in the remembering and the application of what has been taught. When healthcare colleagues are asked by supervisors or quality surveyors about how to do something, the result could be that the education had been taught, but not caught.
This presents a challenge to leadership to determine how to continually create an environment of learning that supports colleagues in a continuous learning cycle. Teaching a single style of education does not meet every person’s learning needs.
Learning How People Learn
Today in healthcare, patients are asked to describe the way they like to be taught, and how they learn the best. This has to be done with healthcare colleagues as well. People learn differently and best from different methodology. Repetition, visual, hearing, lecture, interactive, application learning are a few of the means in which materials can be taught. For the learning to be caught, not just taught, it is necessary to choose the right method!
When healthcare professionals graduate from their didactic and clinical training, they have continuing educational experience of learning on the job. The healthcare industry has to be ready to equip them with new and repeated teachings to ensure their competency is at the level necessary to care optimally for patients.
Assessing What Has Been Learned
For example, it is important how many urinary catheters a nurse actually places in a patient prior to graduation. In some cases this can be limited. A nurse once shared with me that she had only performed two urinary catheter placements during her nursing education and when she graduated she was expected to perform catheter insertions with competency on her job. She studied and read the hospitals policy repetitively to understand what she was to do. No one at her employer ever question or assessed her competence upon her entering her workplace.
Taking the education of healthcare colleagues seriously has to be a priority for healthcare leadership. Taught and not caught syndrome in regard to patient care polices requires developing internal educational curricula that supports ongoing education. Educational infrastructure with a well-designed curriculum is a mandate for optimal patient care.
Teaching That Can Be Caught
Professional educational curriculum is required that meets specific staff’s needs for ensuring the best care for patients possible. Education that will also include application as in work flow development that will deliver a high reliable competent team of providers. The investment of a high-functioning in-house education departments, that supports ongoing education to colleagues is a key critical success factor for healthcare organizations.
The challenge for leaders of America’s healthcare industry, is developing an intentional, comprehensive, internal educational curriculum of excellence, so that healthcare colleagues will have caught what they have been taught.