Informal learning and development

While CPD is often achieved through systematic learning opportunities integrated into health facility protocols and on-the-job training, less structured mechanisms for learning and development are also available to health workers. Informal opportunities for learning via spontaneous interactions with colleagues, professional reading, and reflections on one’s own experiences are essential aspects of a health worker’s professional development. These informal opportunities can be heavily influenced by location and working conditions. For example, a health worker in a remote, rural clinic with no other professional colleagues nearby will not have the same opportunities for spontaneous professional dialogue as a peer working in an urban or periurban environment (Ndege 2006). A number of programs have shown the power of information and communication technologies for linking health workers in remote areas to their peers in order to enhance both clinical practice and opportunities for learning (McNamara 2007).

Continuing professional development is effective if:

  • There is a clear need or reason for the particular CPD to be undertaken
  • Learning is based on such an identified need or reason
  • Follow-up provision is made for reinforcing the learning accomplished (WFME 2003)
  • In-service training is linked to preservice faculties as far as possible to create a seamless CPD system (Global Health Workforce Alliance 2008).

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