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3 Best Practices in Continuing Healthcare Education

3 Best Practices in Continuing Healthcare Education

Published By D2L

Continuing education is crucial for healthcare professionals, and as the demand for qualified practitioners continues to grow, training and accreditation programs will have to grow with it.

Whether you’re evolving your continuing medical education program or building one from the ground up, what are some of the fundamentals you need to know about? Here, we share three practical tips you can consider and bake into your processes.

Ruth Mullen and Alyssa Filippi, both instructional designers at D2L, went into much greater depth about these topics and more during a recent webinar. Click here to access the complete on-demand recording.

1. Secure buy-in from key stakeholders.

Before you get too far down any one road, you need to make sure everyone’s on the same page and you’re going in the right direction. Typically, there are two broad groups you need to consider, though how you get buy-in will vary depending on who’s paying:

  • Administrators: If the employer is willing to pay for the cost and time of training, you need to be ready to communicate the value of continuing education at each level of management. You should also bake in time for people to complete training by doing things like staggering due dates. If the employer isn’t paying, you can include certifications in job descriptions and show clear career growth between roles.
  • Learners: It’s also important that staff understand the value of training, as that will play a role in motivating them to complete it. If the employer is covering the cost, you can leverage marketing packages to spread the word and maximize engagement. If the employer is not paying, ensure learners understand how continuing education will develop their careers and the tangible benefits they’ll earn, including badges and certificates.

Regardless of who you need to appeal to, the underlying goal should be to make sure all your stakeholders recognize why you’re building the training and see the worth of it.

2. Know your audience.

As you kick off planning, there are two core questions you need to be ready to answer:

  1. Why are you creating your continuing education program?
  2. Who are you targeting with it?

3. Leverage expert guidance.

An important step to take early in the process is identifying a subject matter expert (SME) within your organization or association who can take the lead on writing and preparing the content for your course. Ideally, it should be someone practical with an up-to-date knowledge of what needs to be done and the ability to write realistic, compelling scenarios.

If you’re leveraging an internal SME, make sure they have the appropriate time and resources allotted to the project so they’re able to focus on it. It’s often the case that, although someone has been tasked to create a course, they don’t have the time or support they need in order to execute and implement the course properly. In a poll of our webinar attendants, 52% of people said their SMEs had neither enough time nor sufficient resources to create good content.


It can also be beneficial for SMEs to have support from an educational specialist like an instructional designer whose focus is educational theory, especially if their area of expertise is adult learning. Though SMEs are incredibly knowledgeable about their subject and content, they can sometimes fall into the trap of assuming basic levels of understanding that learners may not have.

By letting the SME focus on what people need to know, the education specialist can focus on how people learn best.

Want to learn more about personas, learning objectives, transitioning from in-person to online learning, and other best practices in continuing healthcare education? Don’t miss the on-demand webinar.

[1] Training Industry. (2020). Best Practices in Continuing Healthcare Education. [poll survey].


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