By Holly Clark
If you are a physician, you are also quite likely used to making sacrifices. It starts with an immense amount of education. Then, the job is tough – one of the toughest. Your social calendar? It could not be scarcer. To top it all off, despite everything you’ve learned in medical school, there is a lot of on-the-job learning you are expected to undertake. Confidence isn’t one of the things you should have to sacrifice.
That’s where online learning can help. It’s almost as though it was created for physicians.
Life-long education is a must for physicians. The benefits of in-person courses are obvious – you’re immersed in it, you’re with your colleagues, you have face-to-face discussions with facilitators and instructors. The value of online learning is high but not always quite as clear. It lies within the fluidity of it all, the flexibility, the opportunity for physicians to pick and choose their education as they see fit so they finally feel like they can take their time, as opposed to cramming things in.
The biggest advantage though, is that it teaches physicians to be self-directed, and in a career that demands leadership, that is one crucial skill.
“These courses are designed for the self-motivated,” says Jennifer Wickenden, Senior Advisor of Physician Leadership and Development at Joule. “They are often more convenient but a learner still has to push themselves.”
Jennifer is responsible for development and delivery of online courses at Joule, the Canadian Medical Association’s newest company, and she says that it is only normal for physicians who have taken an online course to not fully understand what it will be like. When you’re used to the traditional education cycle, online learning is an adjustment, but she says physicians are always pleasantly surprised. Primarily, they are impressed with the insidious benefits that arise from such in-depth courses.
“It’s a very different type of learning,” she says. “You take a course over a six-week period, so you have the chance to take little bits of knowledge gradually, test them out in the real world, reflect and give critical thought to what you’ve learned before coming back.”
Another benefit, Jennifer says, is the unique kind of online camaraderie that occurs with online courses. “Physicians have said this is a great way to network,” she says. “They meet once a week in live webinars where they can discuss what they learned, bring their own challenges to the table, but the conversation keeps going afterwards.”
Providing an online sphere for Canada’s brightest medical minds to discuss such challenges is monumental, Jennifer says, to the future of healthcare. “Every province has its different perspectives on healthcare,” she says, “It’s so interesting to hear people come together and form best practices. Having these online courses is a great way to continue building those contacts across the country.”
The most noticeable advantage however, not surprisingly, is the flexibility of online courses. With demanding work schedules, patient loads and family lives, physicians can’t always carve out two-three days to travel for face-to-face courses. In a career filled with set schedules, online learning lets physicians prioritize their time they want they want to.
“I had one doctor tell me she was taking an online course while on vacation in France,” she says. “They can manage their learning with everything else they have going on.”
The plethora of online material is expansive, but Jennifer says she enjoys developing courses catered specifically to making physicians better leaders. With courses in self-awareness training, effective communication and financial acumen, Joule highlights the everyday lessons you can’t get in medical school.
“Physicians take these courses and have so many light bulb moments about themselves,” she says. “They are so focused on that clinical piece in medical school; they miss out on all these other aspects of their education, specifically who they are as a leader. In this career, bettering yourself as a leader is one of the most important things you can do.”
Joule, a subsidiary of the Canadian Medical Association, is home to the Physician Leadership Institute, a platform for physician leadership development. With a wide range of online courses, Joule is becoming a major player in the online learning game. With courses on effective communication and financial management, Joule provides residents and physicians with the tools they need to improve their practice. Click here to shop through Joule’s online catalogue.
Holly Clark is Editorial Coordinator, Specialty Publications at Joule.