Physicians and other health care providers are incredibly busy. The administrative burdens have never been greater, they must learn to “keep up” in their respective area of practice, and caring for patients is a complex set of skills that takes time to achieve proficiency. Recently, there has been a flurry of conversation in medical education about lifelong learning, including this piece on the interplay of social media and lifelong learning. Most would agree that lifelong learning (whether self-directed or otherwise) is an important skill. In fact, we teach this early on in medical school, and continue to stress the importance of lifelong learning during residency training and again in practice.
This post by Dr. John Mandrola on the NEJM Knowledge+ blog really hits home with respect to lifelong learning for practicing clinicians. I really appreciate the last point about finding one’s own strategy for lifelong learning. I struggle with optimal formats for “teaching” people to have a strategy. Some excel at this skill, and others really need to work at it. I think that maybe modeling it to trainees could have an effect (“Someday, I want to be like Dr. X; she is always striving to learn, even after 20 years in practice”).
I do believe that given the rate of change in medicine, it is paramount that physicians consider the important of lifelong learning. After all, our patients will ultimately benefit from our efforts to be lifelong learners and to stay current in our practice of medicine.