The power of education through the Academy

13 Oct 2015

Peter Fletcher is the lead for the Excellence Network's Education theme working group. In this blog he describes how he has seen the power of education in driving forward improvements in practice and why even with a busy workload, you should always take time to develop yourself.I truly believe that fundamental to raising standards of care is equipping professionals with the right knowledge and skills.And I have been fortunate enough to have dedicated much of my professional career to the education of others whether it's through chairing the curriculum committee at the University of Bristol Medical School or by being a founder member and teacher on The Parkinson's Academy.This was established to address a need for professionals involved in Parkinson's not only to develop their clinical understanding, but also to meet with others facing similar challenges.

Engaging in education is critical not only for your own professional development but for the outcomes of the people affected by Parkinson's you see.

The Parkinson's Academy provides Masterclasses aimed at those looking to develop the clinical and managerial expertise necessary to lead within a specialist Parkinson's service.There are currently 2 Masterclass programmes aimed at either those fairly new to specialist services such as newly appointed Parkinson’s nurses or clinical leads looking to maximise quality of delivery.Both are rated consistently well by delegates in terms of the quality and relevance of education offered and its capacity to lead to on-the-ground improvements.

Learning through networking

Whilst I'd love to say that all of this is down to the teaching, I know that participants particularly value the opportunity to network with peers.It's a chance to share ideas, learn from each other and make connections that will provide support throughout their careers. The impact of this aspect of education can never be under-estimated.A particular source of pride for me is seeing how graduates of the Masterclass have gone on to achieve such great things and improve services for many people affected by Parkinson's.Indeed one former participant, Neil Archibald, now successfully runs his own specialist service in the North East and also joins me both as a fellow Excellence Network lead and a teacher at the Academy.So you never know what an educational opportunity might inspire you to achieve!

Education for all

We do also have a responsibility to ensure that those who don't see people with Parkinson's on a frequent basis are also able to access the education they need.After all, without this, it will be the people with Parkinson's we see who will pay the price.I was so pleased to hear that the Understanding Parkinson's for health and social care staff learning programme recently won the Education and Training Award at the Charity Awards 2015.Currently running in Scotland, I look forward to its wider roll-out next year.

Make time for learning

I don't think many would argue with the benefits of education but all too frequently as we all deal with ever-increasing caseloads, it gets dropped off the to-do list.Peter Fletcher, Consultant Physician at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Excellence Network lead for EducationHowever developing our knowledge and skills is our priority if we are to be effective.After all, how can you possibly provide the best possible service if you never stop to look at what you are doing and finding out if there is a better way to do it?Engaging in education is critical not only for your own professional development but for the outcomes of the people affected by Parkinson's you see.So make developing yourself your priority. Look at the Excellence Network’s education and training directory and events directory and find the learning and development opportunities that are right for you.Your patients and service users will thank you for it.Peter Fletcher (pictured right) is Consultant Physician in the Department of Old Age Medicine at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Excellence Network lead for Education.- See more at: UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network

'The things you can't get from the books'

Parkinson's Academy, our original and longest running Academy, houses 19 years of inspirational projects, resources, and evidence for improving outcomes for people with Parkinson's. Led by co-founder and educational director Dr Peter Fletcher, the Academy has a truly collegiate feel and prides itself on delivering 'the things you can't get from books' - a practical learning model which inspires all Neurology Academy courses.