COMMENTARY

Continuing Education: Minutes, Not Hours

Christina M. Sorenson, OD

Disclosures

July 26, 2013

"Come gather 'round people wherever you roam and admit that the waters around you have grown and accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone. If your time to you is worth savin', then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone for the times they are a-changin'."

Bob Dylan wasn't singing about continuing education, but his lyrics could just as easily apply to this perpetual mandate of the health professions.

The purpose of continuing education is to improve knowledge, performance, and patient outcomes. Our current system of continuing education is admittedly suboptimal to achieve the aim of lifelong learning for health professionals. This, in turn, requires continuous improvement in our continuing education system to create value for all and "meaningful use" of continuing education.

Meaningful use continuing education would take new approaches to event planning, delivery, and venue and employ a wide range of educational opportunities.

Event planning would establish criteria for new approaches to educational venues. Web-based learning gives just a hint of the opportunities available to today's learner. Yet we have few guidelines or outcome measures for this type of learning.

Delivery of meaningful use continuing education would be cognizant of today's audience. No longer do we sit for hours diligently taking notes. Today's learner is more likely to accept snippets of information. When I talk with the students of today, they seem to learn more from stumble-upon than from this morning's lecture. Does the profession need an hour for learning to take place?

The location of meaningful use continuing education would change. Smartphones, Facebook, and Twitter, to mention a few, have replaced how we previously gathered information. Could continuing education move into this informational causeway? I think so. Learning opportunities abound in today's e-environment. How perfect is it to have knowledge gaps addressed at the moment they are recognized? Pair this with the use of the most effective learning technology with formative outcome analysis and -- pow -- you have improved performance, knowledge, and outcomes.

I am very excited about the potential for new and meaningful continuing education in the near future. We have the knowledge and the technology to create a system to benefit our patients, our practice, and our profession -- so what are we waiting for?

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