Patrick Gaul discusses the importance of training

Training gives you specialist skills which are required by society and which enable you to pursue a career and earn money, to advance as an individual and achieve your potential.  You will complete stages of training which will take you to a certain level but in a medical, indeed any professional, career, you will never be ‘fully’ trained.  

An understanding of what training involves is an essential part of a professional’s career development.  There will probably an element of compulsory training to satisfy a regulatory or professional body, a requirement of a number of hours or attendance at a particular course.  I suspect most people have an attitude to this type of training that reflects the compulsory element.  The fault to some extent lies in the nature of the training but also perhaps in the attitude of the professional.  Often, an individual will struggle to decide what course to attend and will leave his or her Continuing Professional Development (CPD) until the last minute. 

This is a wasted opportunity.  Good training is an essential part of a sustainable and productive professional career.  A professional should always be on the look-out for training opportunities which these days come in all sorts of formats and do not always require a lot of inconvenience, travel and expense.  Even in a highly specialized environment you will come across things you did not know; experiences and cases that will lead to other areas to investigate which will give you a breadth of knowledge and perspective that is a differentiator.  

Training should not simply be about the day of the training course or event itself.  It should link and relate to your practical experiences in your daily life.  You should be able to ask lots of questions of the trainer based on your experiences and reading (if the course itself does not answer them).  You should have lots of ideas about how you want to be trained and have a passion for training which lasts until the end of your career (and possibly beyond).  Training should never be a chore.  

It should be linked to career aspirations.  Specialism is likely to be a requirement in this day and age.  You should always be looking for a training session which will enhance your level of specialism.  It is tempting to think that you know all you need to know in that area.  However, at the very least you need to keep your knowledge up to date, and you need to recognize the importance of refreshing your knowledge.  You can never know enough.

Always be aware of the world outside of your area of specialism.  There may be areas of related or linked specialisms where knowledge and expertise will be of value.  Sometimes being a specialist becomes too narrow and the good professional has a broad view as to how healthcare is delivered, an understanding of how treatments fit together.  Training is not simply about being very good at what you do on a daily basis.  It is about having  a perspective which enables you to understand the system and the institution you work in.  You will in this way become a well-rounded professional and increase your value as a result.  Training will increase your effectiveness and will increase your knowledge and be part of your approach to knowledge management.