If clinical skills are the critical machinery for health care providers, personal development is the fuel that runs the machinery more effectively. After all, health care providers are human beings as well as professionals when serving their patients. While it is true that technology advances are so rapid that it is a challenge to simply keep up with the latest research and procedures, focusing education exclusively on clinical skills is not always the smartest investment of time and money. Offering education that strengthens personal development and interpersonal skills is crucial not only for health care providers but also for the success of medical practices.
Eleven valuable reasons why a healthcare organization must invest in non-clinical education:

  • Keep pace with a constantly changing health care environment

Just like a skyscraper has a stronger foundation than a small private home, a health care provider has to have a strong personal foundation to weather the storm and changes in health care. Investing time in personal development is the foundation for professional success and personal well-being.

  • Leverage clinical skills with non-clinical training

A Dale Carnegie study revealed that 85% of success is dependent on self-management and interpersonal skills while 15% is dependent on technical skills. This doesn’t mean that clinical training can be neglected, but the best clinical skills and knowledge doesn’t mean much if self-management and interpersonal skills are lacking.

  • Decrease malpractice risk

Continuing education in communication and relationship building decreases the risk of medical malpractice. Studies have shown that patients are far less likely to sue a physician with whom they have a good relationship.

  • Create work-life balance

Work-life balance is an important factor for most physicians today. Experience shows that more and more physicians choose residency programs based on work hours, tolerability of shift and call schedules, and schedule flexibility to accommodate personal events. However, balance has less to do with time spent at work vs. time spent at home but more with emotional competence, communication, teamwork, boundaries, and mind control – skills and principles that can be taught in non-clinical continuing education.

  • Prevents burnout

The burnout rate among physicians is at an all-time high. According to a Mayo Clinic study, published in 2015, 54.4% of physicians reported at least one symptom of burnout in 2014 compared with 45.5% in 2011. This staggering number has a tremendous effect on patient care, medical errors, and patient satisfaction. Emphasizing the importance of self-awareness, self-management, and personal leadership can help physicians reduce and avoid future burnout.

  • Strengthen teamwork

As the American health care system moved away from the old standard of a single doctor handling a patient’s needs towards a more team-based approach, continuing education on strengthening effective communication, teamwork and self-management is essential. A team is only as strong as its weakest link. By investing in the cooperation and collaboration between staff, nurses, and physicians, medical errors decrease and job satisfaction increases.

  • Prevent early retirement

Health care providers who possess the tools to prevent burnout and who enjoy a rewarding personal life outside of work are far less likely leave medicine prematurely. They have the energy to enjoy their life while continuing their profession.

  • Bolster job satisfaction

Health care providers who are working in a harmonious environment with effective teamwork and cooperation enjoy increased job satisfaction which in turn decreases staff turnover and its expenses.

  • Improve well-being

The Joint Commission requires health care organizations have a process in place to address physicians’ well-being. Topics such as stress control, work-life balance, and time management, just to mention a few, are excellent non-clinical topics that help maximize performance while addressing personal well-being.

  • Limit disruptive behavior

Disruptive behavior causes stress, anxiety, frustration and anger, which can impede communication and collaboration, resulting in avoidable medical errors, adverse events, and other compromises in quality care. Medical practices can integrate preventative training and education for stress control, communication skills, and teamwork to reinforce appropriate standards of behavior.

  • Prevention is the best medicine

Problems, obstacles, and bumps in the road are part of life. Without the skills needed to respond to them, they can be more difficult. Individuals who are dedicated to their personal development deal more effectively with problems and recognize options to turn problems into opportunities.

Healthcare and its delivery is constantly changing. Investing in the personal growth and interpersonal skills of health care professionals will accelerate the change process and results in more effective and successful medical careers.

Iris Grimm coaches physician leaders to be more effective and authentic; she can be reached at 770-428-2334 or at www.CultivatePhysicianLeaders.com.