Today’s health care providers face many challenges. Over the last 30 years the incidence of chronic conditions have soared. The population is growing, aging and the incidence of disability has increased. Increasing treatment options, both pharmaceuticals and procedures, have led to an increase in preventable errors and options for patients. Keeping current is very difficult due to the increase in relevant scientific and clinical publications. Health care providers need to not only maintain clinical skills but also develop new skills if they are to thrive professionally and personally.
Today’s health care “environment” has transformed the practice of medicine and nursing from a “craft” to a “profession”. At its core the job is rather straightforward… to make the correct diagnosis and render the most appropriate therapy for the patient in a cost effective manner. Health care providers and workers function on clinical teams. Clinical teams are the basic functional unit of medical organizations of all sizes. Health care providers need skills and knowledge beyond what they received in their training if they are to provide outstanding service to their patients and contribute to the functioning of their clinical teams and larger organizations.
In my experience it takes at least 5 years after residency to hone skills and develop the wisdom to deliver outstanding service to patients in the one on one encounter. Beyond what is provided in medical school and residencies, knowledge and skills are needed to:
- Properly evaluate the clinical literature
- Understand and apply the science concerning the primary and secondary prevention of chronic conditions
- Avoid over diagnosis and preventive screening
- Learn to “rule in” and not just “rule out” conditions
- Work with patients to make shared decisions
Beyond the one on one encounter the health care providers need to obtain knowledge and develop skills to improve the functioning of their clinical teams and medical organization. These include being able to:
- Work effectively on teams (e.g. communication, meeting skills)
- Participate in quality improvement projects
- Improve the efficiency and contribute to lowing the costs for patients, businesses, communities and government
- Serve as informal leaders and in formal leadership roles
- Effectively lead innovation in complex systems
He who cures a disease may be the skillfullest, but he that prevents it is the safest physician
– Thomas Fuller
Ideally medical organizations will provide the training and support needed to develop “sustainable high-performing clinical teams” that support their organizations and deliver outstanding service to patients and members. If they are successful health care providers and workers will find themselves working in learning organizations (as outlined in the book, The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Senge) and living in ever-healthier communities while thriving professionally and personally.