Given the challenges of operating an independent practice in the middle of a pandemic, it might seem a challenging time to think about educational opportunities. However, finding the time as an independent physician to continue learning during COVID-19, to improve your skills, and to improve the opportunities your practice will have to succeed going forward can be rewarding for you and your patients.
Julie DeLoia, PhD, Chief Academic Officer for Dignity Health Global Education (DHGE) and a distinguished scientist, offers some suggestions about areas in which it is important for physicians to increase their knowledge and ideas for how to find learning opportunities during COVID-19.
Dr. DeLoia suggests that, as an independent physician, you should use this time to learn more about:
- Diversity and inclusion: The social justice movement that has been prevalent this year has highlighted the health equity and institutional racism issues that have troubled our country and our healthcare systems for decades. Taking the opportunity to learn more about diversity and inclusion can help you foster a more inclusive environment for your practice team and ensure greater health equity for the communities that you serve.
- Marketing and social media: You will need to continue to promote your practice during COVID-19 as well as during “normal” times. To further your efforts in developing and maintaining a marketing plan, classes are available that will help you learn more about what today’s healthcare consumers are looking for, and how to use new social media tactics to reach them.
- Liability and compliance: During COVID, you may confront a variety of new and complex legal issues, especially around malpractice, compliance, bioethics, and HIPAA. This is another topic that can be effectively covered through online education.
Elation Health provides the resources you need to help your practice during COVID-19. Check out the Resource Guide here.
During COVID-19, most of these educational programs are being offered online, which makes them convenient for you as a busy independent physician. To find an appropriate and qualified program, Dr. De Loia suggests that you:
- Seek out programs that meet you where you are. Online classes ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy while participating in the learning programs. There are many workforce development programs available for you and your team. Look for classes that have the content that you need to navigate the challenges and situations you are facing now and may be facing in the future. Check to see if the course provides the CE hours you need and whether it is affiliated with a reputable and respected institution.
- Compare prices. Affordability is key for any program or service. Many programs offer a range of payment options, especially ones that fit the budgets for smaller practices.
- Look for flexible programs, but not at the cost of being rigorous. Good courses will let you work at your own pace; however, they will also require a “check-in” with the instructor, ways to engage with classmates, and reasonable timelines for each unit.
- Note who develops and leads the program. Explore online programs created by healthcare leaders—instructors with real-world experience—for the healthcare industry.
- Look for recognized and respected university affiliations. Beyond taking a class or two, you may be interested in pursuing a certificate or an additional degree.