We are all too familiar with the terms Artificial intelligence (AI), machines that mimic human smarts and can learn and improve performance by running rounds of data processing. AI devices test and measure their own performance through these rounds, further developing their expertise. In other words, AI and other machine learning (ML) systems engage in continual learning, also known as lifelong learning. The device can update its own understanding and capabilities through newly obtained data while retaining previously learned knowledge.
Continual learning isn’t new to the world of computer science. For example, Tesla constantly updates its autopilot feature based on data feedback aggregated from its 500,000 cars on the road, improving the vehicle’s functionality throughout its years. This illustration shows us that continual learning produces a more advanced AI and ML device, offering performance improvement over time. The benefit is advancements that could remove errors or offer more personalized experiences, which deliver more accurate outcomes.
If a machine requires constant knowledge updates and continual learning, how much more so do those of us managing the device?
According to the PwC 19th Annual Global CEO Survey conducted a few years ago, 75% of CEOs worldwide agree that a skilled, educated, and adaptable labor force should consume government and business agendas. One of the most arguably agreed upon methods for doing so focused on education and how it is perceived. The key is to create lifelong learners. Just as AI and other ML software are intentionally crafted to be continual learners, we must begin to do the same in medicine.
An awareness that education doesn’t end at the pinnacle of our careers is required in our field. The healthcare industry is continuously evolving, and so must we. Technologies considered best practices today can and, dare we say, will change drastically in the span of a decade. What is here today can be easily replaced tomorrow. This fact is why we, as care providers, are obligated to keep up with new techniques and technologies, expanding our knowledge and skills. Continuous education is not a luxury item in our career toolbox. It’s absolute for any healthcare professional who desires to provide exceptional and leading patient care.
Once it has become normalized that education in medicine is an ongoing adventure, the next step is to provide ease of access to learning opportunities. The field must be given programs, seminars, workshops, conferences, and other tools and resources within reach. The demands on medical providers can, at times, force education to take a backseat. We know it must get done. However, other critical agenda items begin to supersede necessary continual learning.
What can we do to keep education on top of the priority list? Here comes accessibility to our rescue. The era of traditional classroom learning has only diminished, allowing e-learning to rise to the ranks. E-learning is any method of education provided in the form of electronic media. This includes virtual conferences, online classes, webinars, video tutorials, learning management systems, simulations, and more. The bottom line is e-learning puts education at our fingertips. Healthcare professionals can train more efficiently at our convenience without rearranging or squeezing in our professional development and growth.
E-learning is not only convenient and available, but it is also engaging. It helps keep its audience interested and motivated. Learning units are enhanced with videos or interactive elements that grab our attention after long shifts or complex cases. These digital features can be paused and completed later or repeated until a full understanding of its essentials is grasped. With e-learning, we can move at our own pace and center it around our schedule.
Medicine and advances go hand-in-hand. The pace of growth has taken flight in the past decade. For providers to stay on top of the rapid changes, we must have systems in place and ready to assist in our development. E-learning proves to be a great source of achieving quality results in a short timeframe. As the field and the technology within progress, virtual education can be quickly crafted to incorporate the new way forward. Similar to AI, as e-learning evolves, acquiring what’s new and improved, that insight is employed to reform and enhance our overall performance.
AI and ML software have the potential to improve patient care, but they are only as good as the professionals who implement them. Advances in medicine dare to transform the quality of life for all but are we ready to deploy the change? For us to adapt and do so at the speed and efficiency the field is moving, we must have accessible learning and educational tools at the ready. We can’t produce lifelong learners without giving them the resources needed to continue their development.
Remember, skilled and motivated medical professionals who are always up-to-date on the latest developments in techniques and technologies aren’t born. They are created.