Whether you’re satisfying licensure requirements or an element of professional certification, continuing education is a core professional responsibility. Improving standards of care and syncing with the latest scientific research is the work of the entire healthcare system, but how is this mission-critical content developed and disseminated?
Dr. Kelly Walker is an experienced clinician, specializing in midwifery and clinical education. With her vast experience in the creation of educational content spanning many years for a spectrum of healthcare professionals, Dr. Walker gives us an inside look into the driving forces behind today’s continuing education.
Premiere: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became involved with Premiere.
Kelly: My name is Dr. Kelly Walker, and I’m a clinical Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of Evaluations and Outcomes at Stony Brook University in New York. Previously, I was at Georgetown University as Program Director for Nurse Midwifery and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner programs.
I've been a nurse for about 30 years and a midwife for over 20, and I have always worked in education, whether it's been precepting students, or writing curriculum content for hospitals and universities. I met Megan Arbour when we were both program directors in midwifery. We became very good colleagues, and started to align our passion for teaching and for clinical excellence. That’s how I connected with Premiere!
Premiere: What is the importance of continuing education in healthcare today?
Kelly: Healthcare is a rapidly evolving field that requires all professionals to constantly update their knowledge base and skills. However, the demands of clinical practice are incredibly time consuming, so providing high-quality evidence-based education that’s easy to access is imperative.
In that regard, an important part of our job is synthesizing the data for people and contextualizing it so they can enact practical change. We’re looking to improve patient outcomes that align with the mission of the Department of Health, the CDC, and our professional organizations from top down.
We also need to prioritize equity and access to education. The current healthcare network is incredibly diverse, and we have to be capable of supporting the entire industry, whether it’s a major hospital in a large city or a regional hospital with a rural population. Each has extremely different challenges to confront, and content needs to address both best practices for their staff and the accessibility issues they might face.
Also, there are many healthcare professionals across the country who are working in health care deserts, and may be the only provider for hundreds of miles. The ability to jump online and get the content they need right away is something really important to move practice forward.
Premiere: What makes for good continuing education?
Kelly: As educators, it’s our job to be up to date on the content the people we serve actually need. There’s no shortage of fascinating narratives in healthcare today, but “interesting” doesn’t cut it—our stakeholders are facing real problems with real patients that demand accurate data and expert guidance.
Getting it right means engaging our stakeholders so we understand exactly what obstacles they face and what kinds of content will make a real difference.
Premiere: How do you find out what a doctor, dentist, or nurse needs?
Kelly: We engage with different content experts in the systems who are looking at the current evidence, and it allows us to get a sense of where clinical guidelines are coming from. We also get into the literature and explore current trends. In many cases, healthcare conversations are being driven in response to an event or new studies, and that’s where we find fertile ground for critical content. Interprofessionalism, for instance, is one of the most important concepts in the industry today, and creating continuing education is the foundation of interprofessional collaboration.
Premiere: Could you talk a little bit about the importance of interprofessionalism and content creation?
Kelly: The fact is, I've never practiced in a vacuum; it’s never been just me and a patient. I think as you develop interprofessional CE, it aligns with the interprofessional commitment of hospitals, healthcare systems, and outpatient centers. It’s incredibly valuable, and when we silo our specialties we decrease access to patients.
I can do my thing very well, but I also know my colleagues know things I don’t, and it really decreases blind spots when you work interprofessionally. We all overlook certain perspectives and have our own biases—no matter how objectively we approach our disciplines—and working with a team can really highlight the additional resources you have at your disposal.
Connecting mental health professionals and medical staff is a perfect example of the benefits interdisciplinary collaboration can produce. If you’re doing clinical work at a large institution, you may never know that social workers can care for people with postpartum depression. Continuing education is an ideal ingress point for a larger conversation about how to approach patient challenges with colleagues who have a fundamentally different perspective on the problem.
Premiere: What are some of the biggest obstacles to delivering continuing education?
Kelly: Time is probably the biggest issue. Hospitals are very committed to continuing education and I think they provide excellent resources. However, it’s also a high-pressure environment with a lot of competing demands. How it’s disseminated can make a huge difference, and that's what's nice about online continuing education—you can engage in it on your own time.
Premiere: Last question—what is your favorite part of working with Premiere?
Kelly: Megan is such an incredible colleague and friend, and I love the ease of collaboration and Premiere’s creative spirit. It's not just “here's the content and here's the question”. It’s an interactive and engaging approach to developing courses that can make a world of difference for our stakeholders.
To learn more from Dr. Kelly Walker, her course Beyond Hot Flashes—Exploring the Complex Relationship Between Menopause and Mental Health is available exclusively through Premiere. It offers professional insights and strategies for improving health outcomes through interprofessional collaboration, and learners receive 1 interprofessional continuing education (IPCE) credit.