Shifting the focus from credentials to skills in healthcare education

2 min read


Our CEO Andrew Malley was recently a guest on Kelly Ryan Bailey’s podcast Let’s Talk About Skills, Baby to talk about the skills that make healthcare professionals successful and how skills-based learning and hiring around the world can be improved.


During the discussion, it quickly became clear that CV and standard credentials are often not nuanced enough to reflect the diverse skills that are needed in reality — this is even the case in highly regulated professions such as nursing. 


Credentials are not nuanced enough to reflect diverse needs in real working environments

“The notion that a handful of credentials such as ‘RN’, ‘BSN’ or even ‘MSN’ covers every nurse in America is bananas,” says Andrew. “If you’re a nurse who works in rural North Dakota, your world is very different from a nurse with the same credentials working in downtown Atlanta. This doesn’t only apply to nursing. Across the board, we keep seeing that people aren’t being hired for the right jobs because employers don’t understand their skills. Additionally, people aren’t given the opportunity to get educated with the specific skills they need to succeed and that apply to their job."


“It might sound like I am stating the obvious and it’s based in common sense, yet the opposite of this is happening all the time, not only in healthcare,” agrees Kelly, who has gotten similar feedback from many leaders.


Traditional degrees often fall short on non-clinical skills

On top of lacking diversity, traditional healthcare education often falls short in imparting knowledge that is not clinical in nature, but often equally important for clinicians to succeed, such as the business of healthcare or compliance issues.

“Usually, ethics, compliance, and legal issues in healthcare are not based on huge misdemeanors. They’re based on people making mistakes because they didn’t know better or simply because they’re tired, dehydrated, and malnourished after a 12-hour shift. People often think of skills as a thing you do, but doing good work is more than that. You need to have good foundational knowledge, you need to be in the right mindset, and you need to be able to take care of yourself to do your best. Health leaders need to invest in their staff because the outcomes are very tangible; in the most dramatic scenario, it’s life or death.”


Ongoing education should be a priority — even if it’s not required

Since some U.S. states don’t have requirements for ongoing education, Andrew recommends going beyond the legal minimum and making ongoing education a priority in order to truly serve patients.

“Let’s think of nutrition. I don’t ever remember my parents talking about carbs or proteins — I actually remember my mom had to hammer the beef she put in the stew because that’s how bad the quality was. Today, it’s a very different situation. My child is fed organically and we know where her food comes from. Even if you don’t go to these lengths, everyone’s personal knowledge of nutrition over the past 20 years has dramatically increased. Now, if you’re a nurse who was educated 20 years ago, how would you just get that superior knowledge if you don’t make an effort to update your knowledge? People don’t automatically know more just because they have been doing something for a long time because, in times like ours, knowledge gets outdated and assumptions get corrected very quickly. It’s a leader’s responsibility to get them the resources they need. People shouldn’t be in a situation where they’re not being trained on a continued basis. So that’s a problem we set out to help solve.”



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