As part of our professional development we need to maintain a competent knowledge of evidence base practice. Yet, there’s so much information out there do you ever feel like you’re chasing your tail? Perhaps you don’t know your left from your right? Maybe you feel like you’re stuck on the fairground Ferris wheel or maybe you’re just going round in circles…? What ever it may be you get so overwhelmed that you don’t know how to keep up with all the latest and greatest… whatever it is… blog, paper, podcast.
So I’ve put a few tips together from my own experiences to help you avoid being caught with your pants down!
1. Everybody’s circumstances are different
We all face different circumstances whether it’s feeling you have – a lack of understanding or comprehension, varying levels of motivation, lack of resources etc.There will always be situations where you haven’t been able to get the latest article or you don’t quite grasp what is being said or you feel you might not have time to engage with everyone else leaving you to feel you’re behind the rest of the pack and out of the loop. It can be exhausting! However, if you are feeling like that I can guarantee then so is everyone else.
2. Don’t get caught up in a pissing contest
Now I hate this, clinicians showing their clinical clout, seriously don’t be a knobhead. If you engage in a conversation with another clinician about a particular topic it should be collaborative, not about how far and/or how long either of you can piss for! What I mean is that we can often get drawn into conversations and discussions where some clinicians, for odd reasons, can appear to have a chip on their shoulder. I have experienced this a lot in my career and I tell you these people are not worth wasting your time on.
The stages of learning development model by Perry (1970) highlights various thought processes, particularly dualistic, technical rational view points (some may even go as far as calling it bigotry) with very rigid right or wrong opinion of a situation or outcome (often supporting their confirmation bias). Invariably they deny all other possibilities and think they are always right. That does not mean that they are. If you are faced with someone like that then take a back seat and reflect on the experience, it will always add to your learning development.
3. Don’t try and tackle it all yourself
It’s so easy for us to get caught up in reading, critiquing and writing that we can easily stumble and fall into an endless chasm of jargon, technical data and confusing stats. If you are like me and want to know everything about anything, let me share something with you – you cannot and will not be able to do this. There are a lot of us out there who think they do know. Seriously pull your head in! Instead engage (on social media) with those that have a shared understanding of topics that are of interest to you. These are the people you should be paying close attention to. Taking 5 minutes to read their thoughts on the latest research, putting their language to the same content can help you gain a better understanding of information you might be stuck on. The great thing is you can be as broad or as selective as you like with whom to ask. So don’t be afraid to ask their opinion, I promise you, you won’t look or sound stupid.
4. Don’t be afraid to say sorry or admit you don’t know
How very difficult this is for some clinicians. It takes a lot of courage to admit we are wrong for fear of looking stupid, perhaps it is plain ignorance? (Usually it ends up being the patients fault when they don’t get better). I promise you if you make up some elaborate BS it will make you look and sound more stupid, because you’re always found out and it comes back to haunt you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying your sorry or admitting you don’t know. In actual fact it is best to work with a degree of uncertainty. If you think you’ve answered the question the likelihood is that more questions will develop. So don’t be afraid to admit you might not have the answer. You’ll get a better clinical reputation if you hold your hand up and admit that you are wrong. You will also gain a lot more respect if you follow it up with questions and show an interest in developing your knowledge.
5. Make sure you detach yourself and re-engage with life
As I’ve said already we can easily get bogged down in research with the immense amount of reading and making sense of it. Social media can easily dominate our lives. It’s so important that you move your attention away from the need to keep up with the game. You won’t be able to stay ahead of the game! It’s important that you take time out, refresh your mind. The beauty of social media is you can always come back to a previous issue that you were unsure about. Clinicians love to engage in thought-provoking conversation!
A final thought is that learning should be enjoyable and fun, it should definitely not become a chore. If it does you need to re-evaluate. Engaging with other clinicians that have an advanced knowledge in particular areas will help to focus your thinking and understanding. This will ultimately make you a more curious, creative and well-rounded clinician.
Thanks for having a read.