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Ten Reasons Why Professional Development is Important

Woman working on professional development.

Many of us talk about professional development. But few of us take the time to really think about why professional development is important for each of us.

Professional development is critical, not only to prevent our own stagnation, but also, to benefit our profession and society at large.  Let’s take a look at those two aspects.

Important for ourselves because it helps us to …

Keep pace with the current standards and guidelines

No matter what occupation or profession we are in, we must respond to the current standards and guidelines in our field. Quite frankly, these standards and guidelines are not within our control. Standards and guidelines are developed by membership organizations (e.g., AWHONN, ILCA, etc.), expert groups (e.g., AAP, ABM) and public health authorities (e.g., FDA, OSHA, State DOH, CDC, World Health Organization) and others.

Maintain and enhance knowledge and skills 

On a daily basis, you will need the knowledge and skills to deliver professional service to customers/clients, and communities. Especially in the healthcare field, new research is published each day to guide our clinical decisions. And we need new skills to deal with new technology.

Here’s a case in point: When I was in nursing school, they didn’t teach us how to take care of patients with lung transplants. Because no one was having a lung transplant! But nowadays, if I were to work in a surgical unit, I’d be expected to take care of those patients.

Save yourself from embarrassing yourself

If you’re wondering why professional development is important, just consider this. Remember that new app or new gadget you couldn’t get to work right? Remember how you felt when someone laughed at you because you asked a question that everyone else in the room knew the answer to? Or when you were lost during a conversation when someone used a term, phrase, or abbreviation that you didn’t know the meaning of? 

You might not have realized it before, but admit it: Avoiding embarrassment is one of many reasons why professional development is important!

Build awareness of changing trends

Trends are those new things that affect care. Questions and issues that weren’t on your radar 10 years ago are now front and center. For example, 20 years ago, no one was asking which breastfeeding app was best for their cell phone. Or, 30 years ago, very few mothers — if any — were telecommuting. Forty years ago, women weren’t asking if it was safe to have laser hair removal, or get piercings or tattoos while breastfeeding, and no one asked if it was safe to get into a Jacuzzi® while pregnant or lactating. And, 50 years ago, no one used a microwave to heat up food or milk. These are just a few examples. But consider how:

  • technology
  • medical advances
  • lifestyle (including alternative lifestyles)
  • personal values, beliefs, and practices
  • legislation and politics
  • fashion
  • the economy

And there are many more topics that will affect the trends that require us to pick up our game when giving healthcare.   

Increases your value in the workplace

There’s an old saying that the amount of money you are paid is equivalent to how easy it is to replace you. Think about it! Self-checkout has replaced at least some of the grocery store or big box store cashiers. The global economy has replaced the days when you had to rely on paying a local expert to do the work. If you want to make the big bucks, you need the big brain, big ambition, and big ideas.

Others benefit from our development because it…    

Strengthens the team you work on

You team is only as strong as its weakest link. Make sure that you’re NOT the team’s weakest link.

Everyone on the team has skills, and perhaps they even have skills similar to your own. But if you make yourself invaluable to the team, the team gets more done, you’ll have greater job satisfaction, and you’ll be part of producing an outcome that benefits the end user.

Advances the body of knowledge and technology within your profession

Recently, in talking with a friend from nursing school, I was recounting what I’ve done in a career — and what I yet hope to do! I have found myself mentoring people in my field, and even people outside my field. I’ve published literally hundreds of articles (online and off-line) and that helps to advance the knowledge and technology in my field. I can’t say I’ve conducted any research — and don’t plan to! — but I’ve disseminated plenty of research results!

In doing so, I’d like to believe that through this type of professional development, I have advanced the knowledge in my own profession.

Increases the value of your license or certification

Even non-healthcare occupations issue licenses or certifications. Society recognizes and values those licenses or certifications — because they see that the person has attained a certain amount of expertise. But if the certified or licensed persons don’t “keep up” then the licensed or certified people within the group will soon be replaced by those who are unlicensed, or not certified.

Increases public confidence in individual professionals and their profession as a whole

This is huge! You wouldn’t hire an electrician, a plumber, or an auto mechanic who couldn’t perform any better than what he could do in basic training, right? Nor would you hire a lawyer or an architect who hadn’t kept up with the new trends. Why would you hire a healthcare professional who sat around and stagnated? You wouldn’t.  

Contributes to a better society

Improving yourself and the service you offer is vitally important to your immediate community, and to society in general. Professional development is important because it helps us to:

  • improve the quality of clients’ lives
  • reduce healthcare costs
  • (improve) the environment
  • foster food sustainability, and
  • reduce the economic burden of skyrocketing healthcare costs

and more.

Why is professional development important? Because without gaining professional development we would all be stuck!

Can you describe why professional development is an important factor in your life? Tell me in the comments below!

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