The Pulse | Thursday, May 2, 2019
10 Ways to Boost Your Gastro IQ
The English Oxford Dictionary describes learning as “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught”. Everyone has the opportunity to advance their professional knowledge and skills. There is an enormous amount of educational resources at your fingertips, but it can be overwhelming. Here are tips to help guide you:
Think outside the box when it comes to pursuing continuing education. In addition to traditional GI courses, look for courses in related fields such as nutrition, oncology and surgery. Some product and supply companies have free webinars with continuing education. Check for courses offered through related nursing specialties and other professional organizations.
Immerse yourself in a patient culture. Attend or facilitate a support group. Volunteer at a patient event like camp or a community fundraiser. Look at online patient communities and social media sites. It helps when you can see patients’ lives from their perspective.
Put your detective hat on and do some investigating. Many GI nurses and associates work in one area of the patient’s journey. Start looking at each patient’s entire journey and connect the different pieces to create a complete picture. Ask patients and the healthcare team questions. Read pathology reports and History & Physicals. Research patients’ diseases and relate what you learn back to what you know.
Be your own teacher. If you don’t understand something, then look it up. Keep a glossary of words related to your patient population. Create a binder, e-mail file or iBook library of articles and resources. Use the online resource links listed in this article to help you learn more about specific GI diseases and treatments. Make time routinely in your schedule to learn.
Know where to find information. There are multiple professional and patient websites with GI content. These include GI disease specific, general disease and gastroenterology organization websites. Many of these sites have journals, blogs and apps associated with them. Most brand name products, like nutrition supplements and medications, also have their own websites which can be great resources. Sign up for e-mail alerts from these online resources for up to date information. Find out what’s readily available to you at your facility such as learning management systems, health libraries, medical/health databases and patient education programs.
Use the resources and training method(s) that work best for you. Everyone has different learning/training styles. Websites and educational materials created for the public, patients, or children are sometimes easier and quicker to learn from than those created for healthcare professionals. Podcasts may suit you better if you are an auditory leaner. Videos, such as those on YouTube and some medical websites, may be a better choice for visual learners. Using a variety of methods and breaking down the information into smaller amounts will yield the best outcomes. There is no right or wrong way to train as long as you learn.
Remember that people are great resources. Get to know the experts at your facility. These professionals include physicians, advanced practice professionals, Nurse Navigators, dietitians and genetic counselors. You may want to set up time to shadow these skilled professionals. Attend your facility’s grand rounds and tumor boards if you have the opportunity.
Share the knowledge. When you share information you teach, and when you teach you learn. Share new resources with your coworkers. Give an inservice to your GI/professional peers. Create a patient or staff bulletin board or a newsletter to share disease information. Write an article or blog on a subject matter you know well or would like to learn.
Learn from others. Ask an experienced nurse or other healthcare professional to be your mentor. Join online communities, like the one from SGNA. There are also Facebook groups from organizations and journals. Create or join a journal club. Alternate routine staff presentations at your unit or committee meetings.
Make learning fun. Learning doesn’t have to be boring. You can easily create games by replacing questions in an existing game with questions related to the subject you’re studying. Search online for ideas and websites, like Pinterest, to help you create activities. Turn your games into a friendly competition with your peers.
Not all learning is or should be in a formal setting. Let each experience be a lesson for you. No matter which way you choose to learn, don’t stop; keep moving forward. Albert Einstein said “once you stop learning you start dying”. That may not be literally true, but you will increase your confidence and competence and grow in your professional role when you take time to expand your knowledge and skills.