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Integration of Learning

Ensuring Transfer of Learning into Everyday Practice

There is evidence from multiple studies (Heaven et al, 2005; Fallowfield et al, 2002; Hecomovich & Volet, 2009;  Ultterhoeve et al, 2009) to suggest that following formal training or learning communication skills are not automatically transferred back into the workplace, and are not maintained or generalised in a clinically meaningful way unless some kind of intervention is offered.

There are strategies and interventions that can be used to maximise the transfer of learning that results from training.  These include:

  • Clinical supervisory support which is considered to be a 'pivotal' element of ensuring learning transfer.  Training should included strategies which augment and consolidate the provision of supervisory support.
  • An organisation culture that actively supports and champions effective communication and relationships.  This includes demonstrated 'buy in' from practitioners, managers/supervisors and senior management.
  • An understanding of the 'contextual and organisational' characteristics of the workplace setting and the environment where new knowledge and skills will be employed into routing practice
  • Training activities that focus upon attitudinal change in workshop culture and upon organisational and managerial priority benefits of person-centred communication
  • Opportunities for managers and/or supervisors to participate in communications training to develop their understanding of what they are being asked to support the integration of within the workplace
  • Training goals and content that are 'conceptually linked to outcomes that are important to patient and healthcare professionals'


Support & Supervision

Support and supervision sessions provide an opportunity to support the development of communication skills.  As with case reviews or rounds, "communication and relationships" can be added as a standing item on the agenda.  You could also use or adapt some of the questions on this site to facilitate discussion in supervision or support sessions.  For example:
Describe a time when you feel you demonstrated excellent communication or were able to use your relationship with a patient in a particularly helpful way.

Support and supervision processes should focus on enabling practitioners to reflect on their communication skills across a range of different patient encounters and to draw out areas of strength and areas where development is needed.  This can lead to a more formal analysis of skills and action planning for continuous improvement.