Never too busy to learn: How the modern team can learn together in the busy workplace

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Never too busy to learn, supported by Health Education England, helps healthcare teams make the most of daily learning opportunities in the workplace. 

This publication explores how ‘invitational’ learning environments can be created in clinical settings and, in doing so, poses two key questions: 

  • How do we create learning opportunities in the clinical workplace? 
  • How do we maximise the impact of these opportunities?

In seeking to answer these questions, we have explored a range of approaches in the context of a range of workplace-based activities. Working in partnership with healthcare professionals from several NHS regions, we have gathered case studies that demonstrate feasible and tested strategies. Many of the case studies explore the creation and maximisation of learning opportunities present within the flow of everyday clinical work. 

Contemporary approaches to maximising workplace learning

In the midst of busy clinical workplaces there is clearly a need to streamline learning within the flow of daily work, and to complement the ever-evolving workforce and work patterns, without compromising quality, patient safety and traditional support mechanisms.

In his paper ‘Workplace affordances and individual engagement at work’, Stephen Billet goes as far as to say that there is no separation between participation in work and participation in learning. Work activities, workplaces and work colleagues provide rich opportunities to learn.

However, Billet also argues that workers’ readiness and aptitude to engage with work as a learning activity depends on how ‘invitational’ the workplace is, ie how well it offers relevant and useful opportunities to learn and how much it encourages staff to engage with these opportunities. When working in an environment that regularly ‘invites’ learning, staff are more likely to access the learning potential of their everyday working practice. 

Acute care toolkit 5: Teaching on the acute medical unit.