This paper will review the characteristics of a teaching program for a critical care department in a local community hospital. This will include a review of teaching strategies that focus on the adult learner based on their development stage.
Overview of Program
A teaching program for the critical care department would entail small group and student-centered teaching strategies that focus on communication enhancement and core skill competency development among learners. This teaching approach emphasizes more autonomy in the clinical care setting and encourages the teacher to consider learner characteristics among clinical and professional workers.
The educational program described will be offered in hospital and other generic health care organizations where proactive team building skills and communication skills development are necessary to ensure a multi-disciplinary approach to learning and care giving. The teaching program provided will include a team approach to healthcare education encouraging participants to learn and adopt strategies for conversing and communicating with diverse populations including other professionals, students, clinical workers, patients, families and community members.
Teaching Program for Critical Care Department Foundation
Learner characteristics for employees in a critical care work setting are unique. Adult learners generally have specific characteristics that require use of effective strategies for learning and teaching the adult learner (Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, 2003). Studies suggest that multiple approaches may be more effective for helping critical care staff develop, including a “team healthcare approach” which educators can adopt and simulate in an educational setting “through interprofessional education and vertical integration of student years” (Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, p. 5).
Teaching strategies must be based on learner characteristics and the place of employment students intend to pursue their career to be successful. Teaching strategies that are varied are most likely to be successful, and may include information technology training in skills development and writing genres and education about working in a multidisciplinary health care setting where a depth and range of activities and problems solving skills are nurtured among future healthcare practitioners (Biggs, 1999; Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, 2003).
Teaching strategies must incorporate multiple aims including improving adult critical care workers perceptions and experiences of their education and learning environment and supporting learners at varying developmental levels (Curzon, 2000). Among the skills necessary include improving communication skills in a patient centered manner; this may require that educators focus on assessing the student practitioner and providing information based learning in small groups that emphasizes problem based and problem solving learning (Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, 2003).
Many support teaching strategies that incorporate good communication, skills and core competency training and specialist options that are student based and emphasize group study skills to support ongoing learning at each development stage among adult learners; further research suggest that the ability of adult learners to discover information and understand subject matter in a clinical setting depends in part on their ability to uncover information about subjects important to them and their professional careers (Huttly, et al. 2003; Wilby, 2001).
It is important that teachers adopt strategies that allow them to act as “agents of change” in the classroom, drawing on their own educational experience to provide students with a learning environment that is “condensed but focused” (Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, 150).
The clinic provides an adequate learning environment for all medical students, and teaching strategies in this environment should focus on providing students with skills, knowledge, expertise and professional ability to treat patients correctly and efficiently (Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, 2003). Teaching strategies that tend to work well in a clinical environment reflect learner characteristics, are generally subject-centered, consider student’s pre-clinical ability and education and enable students to tackle “problem-oriented, practical experiences” geared toward their developmental level (Townsend, et al. 1997; Huttly et al. 2003).
Small group learning is also considered “the most meaningful learning experienced by adult learners” and useful for all curricula including medical, particularly when characterized by “active participation of all group members” (Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, 101). Further small group experiences can enhance learning by involving them in various processes including “relating, applying, generating ideas and recognizing and resolving problems” (Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, 101).
It is a more active than passive form of teaching that provides students with more stimulating methods of interaction and developing, enabling better responsibility for learning among students, helping develop generic clinical skills and promoting all adult learning characteristics and styles (Biggs, 1999; Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, 2003). Particularly in clinical education student centered modes of teaching including small group work allow students to adopt more active and autonomous roles better preparing them to function as team members in their medical communities at later dates and times (Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, 2003).
There is ample evidence supporting the role of active learning in the clinical environment. There is also ample evidence suggesting that student centered approaches to teaching help clinical student learn to communicate better in a team environment and help develop more comprehensive communication and problem solving skills, important attributes within the medical profession (Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, 2003). This compared with more teacher centered approaches, strategies that in the past have proven less successful among adult learners with varying learning characteristics, particularly those learning in a clinical environment where it is important that students adopt transferable and generic skills (Huttly, Sweet & Taylor, 2003).
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