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Skilled worker shortage in the healthcare sector

How digital training can ease the strain

 

The shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector has become one of the biggest challenges facing HR managers and executives in healthcare and nursing facilities over recent years. In view of demographic changes and the increasing burden of chronic illnesses, the need for qualified personnel is higher than ever. Many facilities are faced with the difficult task of filling vacancies while at the same time ensuring the quality of patient care.

In this article, you can read about the current extent of the skilled worker shortage in the healthcare sector, and the important role digital learning models play in combating it. eLearning is a flexible and cost-effective way of meeting the challenges of the skilled worker shortage and increasing the attractiveness of jobs in your institution in the long term.

We’ll provide you with specific strategies and tools to improve the training you offer your employees, and thus actively counteract the skilled worker shortage in the healthcare sector. eLearning not only enables you to upskill existing specialists, but also attract and retain new talent long-term.

 

Skilled worker shortage in the healthcare sector: Why you need to act now

The shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector has reached alarming proportions. Current statistics show that thousands of positions remain unfilled. It affects not only nursing staff, but also doctors, therapists, and other medical personnel. The number of vacancies is constantly increasing and many facilities are struggling to find enough qualified staff.

Compared to other industries, the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector is particularly pronounced. While other sectors can partially compensate for the shortage through automation and digitalization, direct patient care remains heavily dependent on human labor. This situation is further exacerbated by regional differences: In rural areas, the shortage is often even more critical than in urban regions.

 

At least 280,000 additional nursing staff are expected to be needed by 2049.

 German Federal Statistical Office: Press release from January 24, 2024

 

The effects are serious: Overworked staff cannot provide the same quality of care and attention, which leads to longer waiting times, increased error rates, and lower patient satisfaction. The high workloads and overworking of existing staff often lead to burnout, sick leave, and a high turnover rate, which worsens the situation still further. From an economic point of view, healthcare and nursing facilities are being forced to invest large sums in the recruitment and training of new employees, often without long-term success. The image of the industry is also suffering, which makes it even more difficult to attract new specialists.

 

Focusing on eLearning: Combatting the skilled worker shortage in the healthcare sector with modern technologies

HR managers and executives in the healthcare sector have to invest a great deal of time and effort in the recruitment and retention of specialists. Digital training opportunities are a tried-and-tested method of training and motivating employees. eLearning offers a flexible and cost-effective alternative for training existing specialists and attracting new talent. By using modern technologies, you can address your employees’ individual learning needs in a targeted manner, and provide them with courses they can access whenever and wherever they want to. This approach not only contributes to their personal and professional development, but also strengthens your employees’ loyalty to your organization. In addition, eLearning brings with it numerous other advantages that can make a significant contribution to sustainably combating the shortage of specialists in the healthcare sector.

 

Using eLearning in the healthcare sector: Advantages and examples

Currency and quality

Learning content can be revised quickly and so is always up-to-date—for example when new regulations and regulatory changes require amendments to be made.

Example: Pharmacists stay informed about the latest drug developments and guidelines through online courses. This ensures that they carry out their work in accordance with the applicable regulations and guidelines.

Flexibility and accessibility

Digital training courses are available anytime and anywhere.

Example: Nursing staff complete eLearning courses on specific topics—such as specialized care for patients with chronic wounds—at their own pace and between shifts. These courses cover skills that go beyond general nursing training.

Time and cost efficiency

eLearning reduces travel time and downtime, and avoids the costs of physical materials and face-to-face seminars.

Example: Doctors complete online training courses on the latest medical technology without having to travel for seminars.

Individual learning needs

Content is tailored to the learners’ specific needs and prior knowledge.

Example: Physiotherapists select training modules on the treatment of specific injuries that are relevant to their practice.

Motivation and engagement

Interactive, multimedia content boosts learner motivation and engagement.

Example: Nursing staff use virtual simulations to practice recognizing and treating neonatal emergencies quickly under realistic conditions.

Simple success management

Progress and learning outcomes are easily measured and documented through tests and certificates.

Example: Hospital staff use online tests and quizzes to verify the knowledge they have acquired in specific areas such as hygiene regulations. After successfully completing the tests, they receive certificates that officially confirm their skills.

 

Use Case

[Translate to English:] Use Case: Weiterbildung in der pharmazeutischen Industrie
Banner checklist learning management system elearning

The perfect dose of digitization

How the pharmaceutical industry efficiently organizes its education and training while meeting the challenges of a regulated market in the best possible way

 

Alleviating the skilled worker shortage in the healthcare sector: Proven strategies and eLearning solutions

We’ve compiled a list of specific strategies and effective eLearning tools to bolster your employee training and actively counteract the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector. These will enable you to provide your employees with targeted support, continuously expand their skills, and drive their professional development. Use them, and you’ll not only create a competent and motivated team, but also a future-proof medical facility.

 

Step 1

Select suitable eLearning tools

Choosing the right eLearning tools lays the foundations for effectively tackling the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector. You have a variety of tools at your disposal that can help you improve your employees’ levels of knowledge while also increasing flexibility and efficiency.

 

Learning management system (LMS)

An LMS is a central platform on which all your learning content is provided and managed. A good LMS enables you to manage training for all employees and monitor learning progress centrally. It supports adaptive learning paths that are individually tailored to each learner’s needs, and offers comprehensive reports to help you evaluate learning progress. In turn, these evaluations help you address your employees’ training needs in a targeted manner and combat the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector through systematic and efficient training.

Example use case:
A hospital could implement an LMS to centralize the training of its employees across different professions. Doctors would use the LMS for annual mandatory training courses, but also for additional training on the latest medical procedures and technologies, such as the use of innovative minimally invasive surgical techniques. Nursing staff would benefit from standard training on topics such as patient safety and infection control. A specific module could cover the current hygiene guidelines and how to deal with multi-resistant germs. For therapists, the LMS could offer training in new therapy methods and patient training programs. One example might be a course on advanced techniques in manual therapy. The adaptive learning paths align the content with the individual needs and prior knowledge of the therapists, which makes learning more effective and personalized.

 

LMS

Three middle-aged people are sitting at a meeting table, smiling and looking at a laptop
 Three middle-aged people are sitting at a meeting table, smiling and looking at a laptop

The right learning platform for your company

Modern learning management systems for vocational training

With a learning platform, you can address the specific training needs of your workforce in a targeted manner. Targeted training planning, flexible learning opportunities and direct reporting allow you to close skills gaps sustainably and proactively promote the strengths of your employees.

 

Authoring tools

These tools enable you to create customized learning content that is precisely tailored to the needs of your institution and employees. Authoring tools support various formats such as videos, interactive modules, and quizzes. This enables you to cover specific medical topics affecting the healthcare sector and revise the content regularly to stay up-to-date.

Example use case:
A care home might use authoring tools to create customized training modules that are specifically tailored to the needs of the facility. For example, it could create interactive videos that demonstrate the correct way of working with patients with reduced mobility, as well as quizzes to test knowledge of the latest hygiene standards. In addition, it might develop palliative care training modules to help nursing staff deal with the emotional and physical challenges of this demanding work. Regularly updating the content ensures that staff are always informed about the latest standards and procedures, and continuously improve their skills.

 

Authoring tools

Visualization of authoring tools on multiple devices
Visualization of authoring tools on multiple devices

More time and higher quality with the right authoring tool

Create e-learnings quickly and stress-free

Say goodbye to time-consuming creation processes, expensive training courses and cumbersome authoring tools. Free yourself from unnecessary effort when creating first-class online courses and rely on an authoring tool that makes your work easier.

 

Flashcard apps

Flashcard apps are an excellent way to impart knowledge in small, easily digestible chunks. They are particularly suitable for repeatedly practicing and consolidating knowledge. Employees can use these apps to learn key terms and concepts anytime, anywhere, which is particularly useful in mitigating the skilled healthcare worker shortage as they promote continuous learning.

Example use case:
A medical training center could use flashcard apps to help medical students and trainees learn important medical terms and concepts. Employees could use the app to access short learning units in their free time that enable them to repeat and consolidate their knowledge.

 

Simulation-based learning tools

These tools provide a realistic learning environment in which employees can practice and improve their practical skills. Simulation-based learning tools are particularly valuable in the healthcare sector, as they allow complex medical procedures, communication techniques, and emergency situations to be practiced without risk to patients. By using these tools regularly, your employees can improve their practical skills and become better prepared for real-life situations.

Example use case:
A hospital could implement simulation-based learning tools to train doctors and nursing staff in conducting doctor-patient consultations, particularly those involving dementia patients. These tools could contain virtual scenarios in which employees can practice various communication strategies and empathetic interactions with dementia patients. The practical nature of these exercises significantly improves communication skills and understanding of the specific needs of dementia patients, which in turn boosts the quality of patient care and addresses the shortage of skilled healthcare workers.

 

The selection and implementation of these digital training tools will help you alleviate the shortage of skilled healthcare workers by offering continuous and practical training. By using the right tools, you’ll create an environment conducive to learning that motivates your employees and continuously develops their skills.

 

Step 2

Integrate digital training into the working day

To successfully counter the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector, digital learning must be seamlessly integrated into everyday working life. With the right approach, you can establish a learning culture that motivates your employees and continuously improves their skills. Several key aspects play an important role here:

 

Establish a corporate culture that encourages learning

Foster a culture of lifelong learning in which training is seen as an integral part of the working day. You can achieve this by providing resources and creating an environment in which learning is valued and supported. Integrate regular training times into the duty roster so that your employees can continue their learning without additional stress. A culture like this helps strengthen the skills of the workforce and alleviate the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector.

 

Act as a role model and embody the leadership culture

When managers set an example by learning, they motivate their employees to learn and develop continuously as well. Organize regular team meetings in which the importance of further training is discussed and successes are celebrated. Managers encourage and support their employees by setting learning objectives together and regularly discussing progress. This role model approach makes a significant contribution to increasing the acceptance of and participation in digital training programs, which helps alleviate the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector in the long term.

 

Use digital learning as part of your talent management strategy

Identify high-potential employees and offer them tailored training programs to develop their skills in a targeted manner. An effective talent management system integrates digital training into the career planning and development strategy for employees. Create individual learning plans and offer regular feedback meetings to track employees’ progress and development needs. Through targeted training, you can not only improve your employees’ existing skills, but also develop future managers and thus proactively counteract the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector.

 

Offer flexible eLearning methods and formats

Allow employees to integrate their training into their own schedule, either during quieter shifts or through designated learning times. Use mobile learning platforms that give staff access to learning content anytime and anywhere. Implement microlearning modules that convey knowledge in short units and can be easily integrated into everyday working life. This flexibility and adaptability simplifies and encourages participation in further training programs.

 

Provide the necessary technological equipment and support

Ensure your employees have access to computers, tablets, and a stable internet connection. An IT support team that provides fast and competent assistance in the event of technical difficulties is essential to ensure the acceptance and smooth operation of the training measures. Note that IT in healthcare and nursing facilities is subject to many restrictions due to the highly sensitive nature of patient data. Good eLearning solutions are designed to meet these challenges by providing secure and privacy regulation-compliant learning platforms and content that meet the high standards of the healthcare sector. So you can ensure that your employees receive effective and compliant training opportunities.

 

Checklist

Checklist date protection in eLearning
Checklist data protection in eLearning

Data protection in e-learning

Checklist for a worry-free start to your next e-learning project

Don't hesitate and take all the necessary data protection measures when digitizing your personnel development. With our checklist, you can start your next e-learning project worry-free and be on the safe side right from the start.

 

Step 3

Motivate and support your employees

To tackle the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector long-term, you need to motivate and support your employees. Create an environment in which your employees feel valued and supported. Here are some inspiring actions you can take:

 

Create a supportive learning environment

Ensure that your employees receive the support they need to participate in digital training programs. This includes technical assistance as well as designated time and resources. Organize training courses and workshops to show staff how to use the digital tools and ease concerns. For example, you could train nursing staff in the use of new digital care documentation systems or support therapists in the use of eLearning platforms. A supportive environment boosts employees’ confidence and their willingness to continuously learn and develop.

 

Develop individual learning and career development plans

Create an individual learning plan for each employee that is tailored to their specific career goals and needs. Show employees that their personal and professional development is taken seriously. Regular meetings about progress and goals keep employees motivated and engaged. A targeted development plan helps foster talent and reduce the shortage of specialists in the healthcare sector by retaining qualified staff long-term.

 

Implement incentives and reward systems

Encourage participation in digital training programs through financial incentives, recognition in the form of certificates, or promotion opportunities within your institution. Reward and encourage employees who regularly participate in training and improve their skills to increase motivation and commitment. Nurses and therapists who acquire additional qualifications should be rewarded for their efforts.

 

Implement mentoring programs and encourage peer learning

Experienced employees can act as mentors and support less experienced colleagues. These programs encourage the exchange of knowledge and experience and strengthen team spirit. Peer learning enables employees to learn from and motivate one another. These social forms of learning are particularly effective in the healthcare sector, where practical knowledge and experience play a central role.

 

Encourage your employees to maintain a good work-life balance

Make sure that your employees have a healthy work-life balance. Flexible learning times and formats help your employees integrate further training into everyday life without overburdening themselves. Support initiatives to promote employee health, and offer programs that reduce stress and increase well-being. A good work-life balance increases employee satisfaction and motivation, and reduces the risk of burnout, which in turn helps combat the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector.

 

By taking these measures to motivate and support your employees, you’ll create a positive learning and working environment that will make a lasting impact on easing the skilled worker shortage in the healthcare sector. Your employees will feel valued, encouraged, and supported, which strengthens their loyalty to your organization and encourages their professional development.

 

Step 4

Measure and evaluate the success of your training measures

The key to improving your employees’ level of training lies in the precise measurement and evaluation of your training measures. Learning analytics give you a powerful tool at your fingertips that provides deep insights into your employees’ learning activities.

By analyzing data from your LMS and authoring tools, you can monitor learning progress and make targeted improvements. Here are some practical real-world examples:

 

Analysis of the learning activities of nursing staff

Learning analytics provide detailed insights into the learning activities of nurses undergoing training in specialist patient care and emergency management. The LMS can generate reports showing how many modules have been completed, which quizzes have been passed, and where there are still gaps in each learner’s knowledge. For example, if a nurse regularly performs poorly on chronic wound care tests, this may be an indicator that additional training resources or hands-on practice is required. Such targeted measures improve the skills of nursing staff and help ease the shortage of skilled workers.

Evaluation of training measures for therapists

Therapists who take part in training courses on new therapeutic approaches also benefit from learning analytics. By analyzing data such as course completion rates, evaluation feedback, and the results of practical exercises, you can assess the effectiveness of the training measures. For example, the LMS could give you data indicating that therapists benefit particularly highly from interactive case studies, while traditional lecture formats are less effective. These findings then enable you to continuously optimize the training content and adapt it to your employees’ needs.

Feedback and adaptation based on learning analytics

Learning analytics not only provide insights into individual learning activities, but also overarching trends. You can analyze which training modules are particularly effective and which need to be revised. For example, if several employees have difficulties with a particular module, this could indicate that the content is unclear or the learning methods are not effective. Based on this data, you can make targeted improvements to increase the quality of your training content.

Measuring the impact on clinical practice

Another important aspect is measuring the impact of training on the employees’ practical work. Learning analytics can help you evaluate the connection between training and practice. For example, you could investigate whether nursing staff who undergo regular training make fewer mistakes or achieve a higher level of patient satisfaction. Such data is valuable for determining and further optimizing the ROI (return on investment) of your training measures.

 

Through the targeted use of learning analytics, you can create a data-driven foundation for the continuous improvement of your training programs. This not only contributes to increasing your employees’ levels of training, but also helps alleviate the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector in the long term. By measuring and evaluating training success, you ensure that your training measures are effective and targeted, which improves the quality of patient care in the long term.

 

Adapting to regulation changes: Keep your training up-to-date and legally compliant

The healthcare sector is subject to constantly changing rules and regulations that have a direct impact on your employees’ training. Your eLearning measures must always comply with current legal requirements. Stay flexible and regularly adapt the training content to new laws and guidelines.

By continuously reviewing and updating the learning content, you’ll ensure that your employees are always up-to-date and meet all the necessary compliance requirements. This not only improves the quality of patient care, but also minimizes the legal risks for your facility.

 

The bottom line.

We can’t magic away the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector, but we can ensure that your existing staff receive further training and acquire skills that will pay off in the long term. You have learned the most important ways to overcome this crisis, from selecting suitable digital eLearning tools and integrating these measures into everyday working life, to motivating and supporting your workforce.

Use adaptive and need-oriented training so that staff have more time for their actual work—caring for, treating and supporting people. Use modern learning management systems, customized authoring tools, flashcard apps, and simulation-based learning tools to improve your doctors’, nurses’, and therapists’ skills. Establish a corporate culture that encourages learning, act as a role model, and create a supportive environment in which continuous learning becomes the norm.

Act now and take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital training to actively tackle the skilled worker shortage in the healthcare sector. By continuously developing and training your employees, you’ll not only create a competent team, but also future-proof your facility. Invest in your employees’ development to help ensure the quality of patient care and alleviate the shortage of skilled workers in the long term.

 
Denise Kutter | Marketing & Design
Denise Kutter
eLearning author
 

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