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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Keeping Up

Today I had the privilege of delivering a lecture to a large class of Critical Care Paramedic Course attendees.  These folks are probably not going to get a raise for gaining the extra training, but they are adding additional tools to their toolbelt to be able to be put in use for their sickest patients.  They patiently listened as I went over the required curriculum and a couple of case studies that I added in.  Much of the information was a review of content they had in Paramedic school, but for some that had been years earlier.  I had no problem praising them for taking the time to learn more and to prepare to provide a higher level of care.

No matter what job you have, the body of knowledge surrounding that job continues to evolve at a rapid pace.  It is all of our individual responsibilities to pick ways that we can KEEP UPWhat Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More SuccessfulMarshall Goldmith is the best-selling author of "What Got You Here, Won't Get You There".  What a great title to remind us that we have to be life-long learners to continue to be effective.  Whether you are a Paramedic facing an ever sicker population of patients requiring transfers to other facilities or you are a leader facing newer HR problems like FMLA Abuse, Social Media Violations, etc.  We have probably all known clinical care providers and leaders who were stuck in the past.  In fact, it takes years for evidenced based medicine to become commonplace practice.  I am very interested about Change Management when providers, given scientific evidence resist change.  But let's face it, some people don't even get exposed to the evolving science, they just remain stuck in the past.  For change to occur, these people have to retire or go work for the competition.

Here is my top 5 list on why to KEEP UP:
  1. If you are in a mission critical field, someone's life may depend on it.
  2. You will continue to enjoy your job more, if you don't experience knowledge gaps when everyone else is moving ahead of you.
  3. You will be a more valuable resource at work if you can contribute recent advances and best practices in your field.
  4. It doesn't sound good in court if an expert witness says you are behind the times in your practice.
  5. Job Security
My hat truly goes off to those that will take the time to stay abreast of changes within their field.  Today, it is very easy to stay connected to relevant and useful information.  I'm going to list a few, I know each field has it's own list.  Whatever you use, no matter what field you are in, thank you for taking the time to KEEP UP!

  1. Google Scholar - very useful resource for finding scholarly articles.  Most of the time you get access to the full article.
  2. CEU Online Courses - great web based content.  Some professional associations provide these for free.
  3. Join a professional association.  Networking opportunities with other members is very valuable.
  4. Attend professional meetings.
  5. Obtain specialty certification.
  6. Attend professional conferences.
  7. Read professional journals in print or online.
  8. Pursue a higher degree.

Horst Shultze, President of Ritz-Carlton Hotels said in a presentation I attended, "Don't compare yourself to others in your field, you could end up being the best in a group of poor performers!"  He was cautioning us as a group of hospital personnel to be careful using comparative benchmarking because the whole industry could be underperforming.  He challenged us to compare our processes to proven excellent processes such as an Indy 500 Pit Crew.  With that same spirit, I challenge you, to not compare your training needs to your peers.  Think about what you need to be a finely tuned instrument of excellence.  What training will prepare you to close the gaps that are present in your co-workers.  As for me, my recommendation is that you prepare yourself in three basic areas:  Technical Skill - Teamwork - Customer Service
  • Technical Skill - in most workplace environments, this will get you by.  If you are highly technically skilled, people will excuse your lack of ability to play as a team member or your poor customer service and say "Oh, that's just Bob."  In my teams, it takes all three to be a good team member.  As far as KEEPING UP, courses to enhance your technical skill are important.  Your must keep sharpening the saw.  But, do us both a favor and address the other two dimensions.
  • Teamwork - No one likes to come to work and see someones name on the schedule and moan.  Just about all workplaces involve teams.  The days of the Lone Ranger are over.  If you have a deficiency in this area, attend some training in team building or maybe your workplace can have a retreat on building your team.  Working as a team is important.  I know these are overdone, but:
    • Together Everyone Achieves More
    • There is no "I" in TEAM
  • Customer Service - Everyone is your customer.  The person that pays for your services is your customer.  Your co-worker who depends upon your work output is your customer.  Now that much of our industrial complex has moved out of the country.  The U.S. is mostly a service oriented country.  If you don't like customer service, get used to it.  Police officers now do community policing with a connection to the community, hospitals are reimbursed based upon patient satisfaction scores, the oil change guy rushes to get out to meet me as I pull up.  Everyone's expectation of service is extremely high.  If expectations are not met, complaints and in the case of medicine, legal action quickly ensues.
Do a self assessment and round out your training plan.  Best wishes for your lifelong journey toward learning excellence.

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