|October 2018 SEA-Q|
A new anesthesia technique has shown significant clinical benefits in a landmark study. What is the BEST first step in implementing the technique at your institution?
A.): Conduct a needs assessment
The increasing volume of medical knowledge has been well documented, with new techniques, treatments, and strategies developing frequently. Faculty development in the form of lifelong learning and continuing medical education is crucial to optimal patient care. Yet the process of integrating new knowledge into faculty and institutional practice can be challenging. Implementation of new techniques is best achieved by employing a structured process that starts with a needs assessment.
A needs assessment involves assessing the educational needs of a group in a systematic way – in this case, institutional faculty and staff. The gap between current knowledge or practice and the desired or optimal state is evaluated. This may involve surveying for perceived deficits (known unknowns). It could involve observing clinical practice or analyzing outcomes to reveal unrecognized weaknesses (unknown unknowns). Subsequently, gaps are considered, prioritized, and a targeted curriculum is developed utilizing faculty, content experts, educators, and others. Other methods that can be used in a needs analysis can include evaluation of medical knowledge (via quizzes or self-assessment) or review of the medical literature. This process can also guide subsequent curriculum development by determining the optimal methods for knowledge dissemination (lecture, journal club, online modules, simulation, supervised practice, clinical exam, etc.).
Structured needs assessment should precede any training method both to help specify what should be taught and how it should be taught.
Brian F.S. Allen, MD