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The Importance of a Nurturing Learning Environment

Lessons Learned from Loggerhead Turtles

Candice Rettie, PhD 0 287

This past summer, in a blog I wrote about the importance of learning and working environments, I mentioned the recommendations from the Macy Foundation’s April conference, “Improving Environments for Learning in the Health Professions.” Amy Barton, a panelist at the Consortium’s own conference in June, was an invited participant at the Macy Foundation event.

I was curious about what struck her the most about the discussions at the Macy Conference.  It was definitely a high-level discussion, she noted, revolving around analyzing commissioned papers about theories of learning and instruction. But what impressed her the most was the persistent focus on the social component of learning—on community—and on the importance of creating environments that are nurturing.

I asked Amy to join me and write a blog about these ideas.  She begins by talking about loggerhead turtles (!); describes the four characteristics of learning environments; relates all that to the Johns Hopkins Civility Project; and wraps it up with a closing quote from the conference.

Mentoring in Action

Box of Chocolates

Candice Rettie, PhD 0 260
We’ve all had horrible days.  In this longer-than-usual post, I’d like to share an extraordinary example of mentorship that was forwarded to me. 

Dr. Dan Wilensky responds electronically to a trainee who recently wrote in her online reflective journal about a particularly difficult day.  Dan is a family practice physician, an active primary care provider for 15 years.  He is Chief of Preceptors for Community Health Center, Inc.’s  Nurse Practitioner Residency program and preceptor trainer for CHC’s remotely hosted NP postgraduate training programs across the country.  He is widely respected for his clinical expertise, wisdom and empathy.  

Dan’s response is a superb example of how technology--when it is thoughtfully integrated with clinical practices and learning environments--can create a private, personal and safe learning space.  Mentoring occurs in many ways, using many media; technology can and should enhance and deepen this essential hallmark of postgraduate NP training.

Do Dan's words strike a chord?  Read more and judge for yourself.

Improving Environments for Learning

The Future is Now; What next?

Candice Rettie, PhD 0 287

Throughout the Consortium’s 2018 First Annual Conference, we heard about emerging best practices in postgraduate NP training, interprofessional training and practice, and the national landscape for workforce development.  There were collegial breakouts on curriculum, evaluation, mentorship, on creating and sharing evidence, and on being a program director.  As we work to create the learning environments we need, we are weaving the fabric of excellence.  A common thread in our community is sharing – connectedness.

And it’s in the air.  In April, the Macy Foundation sponsored a conference on Improving Environments for Learning in the Health Professions.  Representatives from all the health professions, educators, practitioners, administrators and researchers convened to identify and disseminate best practices through “actionable recommendations” focused on improving learning.  They identified current state research and practice in health professionals’ education, and developed actions to improve that education.  

Work Life Balance? Really?

Finding Happiness at Work and at Home

Candice Rettie, PhD 0 276
When asked about work life balance, Jeff Bezos replied that his work life and personal life isn’t compartmentalized into two competing entities. Instead of viewing work and life as a balancing act, Bezos said, it's more productive to view them as two integrated parts.  “It’s not a balance,” he said, “It actually is a circle.”

As novice practitioners enter full-time practice and as new grads enter their postgrad training, managing competing demands is essential.  It is also stressful and exhausting.  How do we support novice practitioners during this complicated time in their lives?  How do we help them as they try to create, or refine, a personal life during this intense and stressful period of professional training? There is no easy answer.  

Each person has to find his or her strategy for integrating personal values with professional demands.  A crucial role for program directors, faculty, preceptors, staff, and near-peers is to validate each trainee’s evolving professional identity in a way that allows him or her to incorporate personal values and interests. It is one of the many potential gifts of a training program – providing a variety of accessible models for how to be true to our multifaceted selves as professionals, as community members, and as individuals with personal lives.

Mentoring -- A Safe Harbor

Elective Performance Improvement

Candice Rettie, PhD 0 812

You know those meetings where one person does all the talking? Might be a well-intentioned expert. Might be an opinionated know it all.  For whatever reason the spark that fuels discussion just never happens. People get bored; they check their cell phones; respond to texts.  It is painful for everyone.

And then there are those inspiring discussions that are dynamic and insightful, with pregnant pauses and intense focus. Ideas shared. Suggestions offered. Solutions discovered. It’s seeing Washington DC's Japanese cherry trees blossom almost overnight after a spring rain, as in the accompanying picture taken by Redd Angelo on Unsplash. Awesome. Breath taking. Beautiful. Transformative.

As with my experience in acquiring new skills in creating an atmosphere that encourages dynamic and informative discussions in an online course, effective mentoring is transformative and truly a gift that impacts the future. Whether as a recipient or provider, it is an opportunity to be taken.
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