nursing students using a dummy in class

It’s no secret the duties of most healthcare professionals are largely hands-on. Whether someone is a doctor, nurse, phlebotomist or physical therapist, their primary role is to provide direct patient care in a hospital, doctor’s office or other type of medical setting.

Skills like evaluating patients, administering medications, drawing blood and inserting IVs aren’t learned entirely from textbooks. Instead, healthcare students learn and hone these skills by observation and hands-on medical training.

If you’re looking to pursue an education in healthcare, expect a significant portion of your studies to consist of hands-on education. Implementing what you’ve learned in the classroom in a clinical setting helps ensure you’re ready to hit the ground running once you graduate and land your first healthcare job.

The 70/20/10 Model in Healthcare Education

Research shows adults learn quickest from hands-on experience. Formal learning like reading textbooks or attending seminars is still important and likely fundamental to your future job duties. However, to become proficient and able to perform tasks independently, you must put everything you’ve learned into action.

According to the 70/20/10 Learning Model coined by researchers Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichniger and Michael M. Lombardo in the 1980s:

  • 70 percent of learning comes from experience and experimenting, such as problem solving or completing a task
  • 20 percent of learning derives from observation and working with others
  • 10 percent of learning is attributed to formal learning, such as reading books and listening to lectures

For example, if you’re learning a nursing skill, such as how to insert an IV, you’ll likely first learn about IVs as a treatment tool. Once you understand how IVs work and when they’re used in a clinical setting, you’ll move on to putting that knowledge into practice. This is where you’ll be learning by observing your instructor and more experienced students. Lastly and most importantly, you’ll need to practice IV insertion on artificial practice arms and other students. This hands-on practice is where the bulk of the learning will occur. The more you practice, the more versed and confident you’ll be in performing the task.

Benefits of Learning in a Hands-On Environment

Teaches Critical Thinking

Working in healthcare requires you to think on your feet. Critical thinking and the ability to make quick and accurate decisions can only be developed through practical learning. Hands-on practice in college allows students to experiment, troubleshoot, make mistakes and reflect on them in a safe and supportive environment, in preparation for the fast-paced healthcare career of their choice.

Promotes Teamwork

Teamwork is a crucial aspect of working in healthcare. Whether you’re a nurse, a medical assistant or a healthcare administrator, you’ll need to build rapport and communicate with your superiors and coworkers to ensure the safety and wellbeing of patients. Hands-on learning helps you work in a team, such as when you’re practicing skills on fellow students or brainstorming ideas when given a group assignment. Learning to work with individuals from all walks of life is necessary if you want to be successful in the healthcare field.

Inspires Engagement

Most students enjoy hands-on practice because it’s typically a lot more interesting and exciting than reading or completing written assignments. Practical work can be very engaging as it allows you to apply theoretical knowledge into practice. Once you get the hang of a particular skill, you’ll feel empowered and ready to tackle your next challenge.

Gives You a Glimpse of Your Everyday Duties

For some students, hands-on training can bring much-needed insight into the career they’re pursuing. Students who didn’t think they’d faint at the sight of blood or needles may realize the career they’ve chosen isn’t a good fit for them after all.

Immersing yourself in clinical studies gives you a glimpse of your future duties and allows you the opportunity to get to know yourself better and change programs if necessary. For example, if you’re studying to become a nurse but are physically unable to draw blood or insert IVs, becoming a physical therapy assistant or a healthcare administrator may better suit you and your unique talents.

Pursue Hands-On Healthcare Education in St. Louis

At the St. Louis College of Health Careers, we’ll ensure you gain both the theoretical and practical knowledge you need to excel in your future healthcare career.

To learn more about our accredited and flexible programs, browse our academic catalog or call 866-529-2070.

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