Internal Continuing Education and It’s Inherent Value

Posted on October 12th, 2013 by Denise | No Comments

Internal Continuing Education and Its InherentValue

By

Denise Koonce OTR

My first job as an occupational therapist was in a hospital.  The hospital’s foundation was rooted in research and rehabilitation.  They were and still are on the cutting edge in the areas of spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, and amputee recovery.   I had the opportunity to work for them for 3 amazing years.  I was fresh out of school and eager to put into practice the knowledge I had learned at school over the past six years.   As a new graduate, you have so much knowledge stacked in your brain waiting for the opportunity to organize it and use it for functional means.  When I was hired I knew I would learn a great deal but I truly had no idea just how much I would learn while I was there.  Despite the fact that you need all the information you learn at school, your “real” learning begins in the workplace.  I realized very quickly how much I did not know.  Fortunately for me, the hospital had a plan.  My learning curve began immediately due to the structure of their all encompassing mentoring and internal continuing education program.  New therapists were paired with experienced staff for mentorship and there were weekly in-services from outside and internal sources.  If a therapist attended a continuing education course outside of the hospital, when they returned they would update the entire rehab staff on what they learned.  If the information involved a new technique, that technique was shared with the entire staff.  The concept of learning so much within my workplace, to me, meant they valued me as an individual, their employee, and as the best option for their patients.  They placed worth on having the most informed and trained staff by making it a priority.  To have a company value the learning process to this extent was inspiring.  It encouraged and enabled you to work harder and made you eager to learn even more.  The hospital realized the time and cost involved in providing this atmosphere but the end product was a better trained and informed staff which could provide a greater product to the patient, giving the patient a better outlook or opportunity to live a fuller life. 

Reach Therapy Center has the same philosophy regarding continuing education both internal and external.  Reach Therapy Center values education and the impact it can have on the company, its employees, and therefore their patients.  As a new graduate, working in a facility that is committed to helping you become a better therapist through mentorship and education is fundamental and essential in my book.  Your first job is or can be the opportunity for you to test your wings and learn to fly.  Along with a strong internal continuing education and mentor program your flight plan can be limitless. 

Strong internal continuing educational programs don’t just benefit the newer less experienced staff; it is also for those who have been around a while.  For those with more years of experience, internal continuing education can be a breath of fresh air as the newer generation brings an infectious excitement through their commitment to learning and taking outside continuing education courses with new information, research and treatment techniques.  When they return with all their exuberance, we are the recipients of their newly obtained knowledge and the sharing of that knowledge.   Internal continuing education in-services also provides a platform for those with experience to keep their skills sharp by sharing it with less experienced  staff either through hands on mentoring or in-services. 

I applaud Reach Therapy Center for supporting an atmosphere of learning and the value that education provides because in the end everyone wins.  If you have an experience where internal continuing education within your work place has allowed you spread your wings and fly, please share it with us.

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