Not enough time
Heath professionals' perceived lack of time is a constant theme in research regarding professional development and education. For example, I surveyed New Zealand midwives in 2005 about their experiences of being a mentor and being mentored - lack of time was one of the main barriers to mentoring. I had similar feedback from midwives about time constraints when I surveyed them about their use of Internet resources in 2002.
The other thing I hear about professional development and ongoing education from nurses and midwives is the expectation that it should be done during working hours - that it is unrealistic to be expected to take part in learning activities in one's 'own' time.
Michele Martin believes it is vital for us to look at how we prioritize our time - it is very dangerous to take the attitude that professional development is only something we do if we are paid for it. When thinking about priorities, we have to ask ourselves the hard questions. For example, how many hours do we spend watching television? How valuable is watching 'Wife Swap' compared to having a conversation with a midwife or nurse in another country on Skype? Clay Shirky explores this very point in this enjoyable presentation.
What do we believe about learning?
Maybe what we need to be doing is explore our attitudes to learning. Learning is not just something that is delivered in a formal classroom or in a skills laboratory. It is something we are always doing - learning does not end the minute we leave our work place. If we as nurses and midwives wish to be viewed as professionals, then we must take a professional approach to our learning and professional development.
Blogging, sharing and collaborating in wikis, communicating with Skype and Facebook is not a 'waste of time' nor is it an luxurious 'extra', of limited relevance to computer geeks only. So I would reiterate the question asked by Kevin Shadix in response to a post by George Siemens about the importance of taking time to consider one's personal learning networks:
"how can we NOT afford the time?"
Some thoughts on privacy and online reputation will come in a future post.
The Internet and Healthcare.
Stewart, S & Wootton, R. 2005 . The practice and potential of e-mentoring for