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Nowadays, the ever-developing world puts great responsibilities on personal development of modern people. One of the key success factors in such dynamic environment is flexibility in both thought and action which is attainable through constant renovation and update of one’s educational experience.
Lifelong learning becomes the key to one’s ultimate success in all spheres of life, including inter alia employment and health (Field, 2006). Considering the objective inability of standard education to satisfy the immediate ever-changing need for innovatory knowledge during one’s whole life, it appears most reasonable to work out a lifelong learning plan so that the need for development and adaptation is fulfilled.
In addition, individual lifelong learning plan is the more successful that it satisfies the requirements of flexibility: it is much easier to adapt an individual plan to the ever-changing environment rather than revolutionize a whole organization.
Since the pace of development in modern world is extreme, any long-term planning should be approached with caution. One never knows how the course of development will proceed in the long run, therefore it appears more reasonable to set up an individual lifelong learning plan that would not exceed the coming decade.
This period is both long enough to allow of setting considerable learning objectives, and short enough not to find oneself at a loss as a result of mistaken planning. A decade’s time is enough for a modern individual to attain significant knowledge, as well as develop one’s abilities that lead to a successful career in the chosen sphere.
Any learning is impossible without proper learning sources that provide adequate information and guidance on the studied issue. Since the present lifelong learning plan is devised for the spheres of general management and health care administration, there are two crucial sources that may serve as instructive inspiration during the learning process.
For the first sphere concerning general management, it appears necessary to utilize Michael Useem’s (1998) work The leadership moment: Nine true stories of triumph and disaster and their lessons for us all. This collection of real-life occurrences, which put managers and leaders in extreme situations and forced them to employ all their managerial wisdom into solving those issues, teaches many valuable lessons to the reader as well.
The secrets and strategies of managing are disclosed in a lively and understandable context, with practical implications obvious and therefore more impressive. The recommended second source, dealing with health care issues, would be Cases in health services management by Rakich, Longest and Darr (2004).
This case collection is valuable for its broad scope of discussed issues that range from quality improvement to strategic planning, include cases of ethical dilemmas, as well as issues of cost-benefit analyses and resource utilization.
The learning impact of both sources mentioned is especially high due to the case method they employ for teaching valuable lessons of management. Additionally, the cases discussed in those works appeal to the learner with their multifacetedness which allows of reconsidering them from various points of view depending on the learning situation.
A lifelong learning plan as such may seem an ambitious undertaking, but once it is neatly structured in a set of goals it appears much more comprehensible. In order to establish the range of goals to achieve, it is essential to realize what changes might occur in the given time within health care management and consequently to work out the ways one should direct one’s lifelong learning to keep abreast with the developments of the time.
The line of development of health care management in the coming decade can be envisaged as evolving in response to the evolution in organization and delivery of health care. The goals of a lifelong learning plan for a health care manager should therefore involve continuous adaptation and upgrading of managerial standards and strategies in response to the ever-changing situation.
A constantly developing health care manager should also build his/her activities in compliance with the technical achievements of health care industry that allow of new managerial techniques and approaches.
Moreover, the development within the lifelong learning plan should consider the current medical situation in the professional environment: health care management should correspond to the current needs of the patients in the given place and at the given time.
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Last but not least, lifelong learning plan should have as its goal not only isolated personal development but also creating a learner-friendly environment that would allow sharing knowledge in a larger community of health care managers.
In order to achieve the aforementioned goals of the lifelong learning plan, the health care manager should work out certain winning strategies that would lead him/her to success. For the purpose of adapting and upgrading managerial standards, it is vital to observe the current trends in health care management and develop a flexible approach that would allow meeting the needs of every individual situation.
Technical modernity is promoted via openness to technical innovation and recognition of its importance for creating a contemporary health care institution.
With the view of satisfying the individual requirements of patients at a given time moment, the health care manager is required to possess sufficient up-to-date information on the contemporary health concerns of a given community.Finally, the requirement of constant knowledge sharing among health care managers necessitates creation of opportunities for information exchange and analysis.
In the short-term range, the number of steps to undertake in order to realize the aforementioned strategies for lifelong learning plan is quite high. One thing that appears vital is maintaining one’s learning activities constantly; this can be achieved through variegating them and connecting them with one’s daily working practice.
Thus for one thing, observation of current trends in health care management is possible through observing the experience of major health care establishments. The news of technical achievements and current medical picture of the community are available through firstly, own-conducted surveys and research and secondly, through regular reviewing up-to-date publications in related editions.
The favorable environment for group learning is created through establishing and actively participating in workshops and conferences of healthcare managers. In addition to those tactics, it is worth creating certain topical self-assessment modules that would stipulate the information to learn at a given period of time, as well as the study questions to be answered and practical tasks to be solved on the basis of that information.
Within those module both theoretical and practical assignments should be completed: theory can be drawn from multiple informative publications on health care, and practical tasks arise from everyday managerial activities. It goes without saying that the most efficient and sensible way to conduct lifelong learning is always to connect practice with theory and make sure that the latter serves the needs of the former.
Lifelong learning process makes sense as long as it yields certain results. In order to understand whether the expected outcomes are achieved or not, it is essential to carry out monitoring via a set of various procedures. The most available and immediate monitoring is conducted through self-analysis and own reflection on the course of actions.
Keeping a neat and detailed record of one’s long-term and short-term plans and ways of their realization would create a clear picture of the ways things go for the health care manager in the process of life learning. It would be logical to assume that if the goals are achieved, then the strategies and tactics have been chosen correctly; if not, then the strategies and tactics should be amended correspondingly.
In addition to self-assessment, solicitation of colleague opinions is absolutely vital. An objective detached view would point out the advantages and disadvantages of one’s actions, sometimes doing it more clearly due to impartiality and freshness of perception.
Therefore colleagues feedback should be gathered constantly, either directly (through immediate conversation) or indirectly (through observing colleagues’ cooperativeness and willingness to collaborate).
Achieving success in one’s lifelong learning is subject to action of certain risk factors that may either benefit or hinder one’s success. Among the crucial helping factors, information technology plays a role that is hard to overestimate. Learning as gaining, processing, creating, and sharing information is immensely facilitated by the ever-developing information technology and there is hope that this process continues on to the coming decade.
Professional factors, such as availability or absence of knowledgeable interlocutors who can share and develop knowledge, can play either a positive or a negative role correspondingly. Last but not least, the success or failure of one’s lifelong learning plan crucially depends on personal factors.
For one thing, the personality of the learner influences the learning process: such characteristics as stamina, self-organization, motivation, and openness to new ideas are indispensable to successful learning. For another thing, the personality of the people who may potentially share knowledge also matters: whether they are friendly and willing enough to cooperate is a decisive factor for obtaining the desired information.
Field, J. (2006). Lifelong learning and the new educational order (2nd ed.). Sterling, VA: Trentham Books Limited.
Rakich, J. S., Longest, B. B., & Darr, K. (Eds.). (2004). Cases in health services management (4th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Health Professions Press.
Useem, M. (1998). The leadership moment: Nine true stories of triumph and disaster and their lessons for us all. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.