"Lunch," said Tan Tock Seng Hospital's (TTSH) Senior Radiographer, Mr Chong Chun Meng, was the "best" time to conduct the 'lunch-and-learn' professional development workshop for 130 National Healthcare Group (NHG) radiographers.
Mr Chong, who spearheaded the workshop, said that it was the opportune moment to conduct the workshops, as a large pool of radiographers congregate at TTSH during the one-hour lunch break. And to ensure that the one-hour window was maximised, he included lunch to save the radiographers from having to get their own. "That was how it became 'lunch-and-learn'," he added.
An initiative by TTSH Education Director, Associate Professor Tham Kum Ying, the 'lunch-and-learn' workshop was created to help upscale the clinical knowledge and teaching abilities of its pool of radiographers, which centred on a variety of topics such as teaching pedagogies, approaches and engagement methods.
"The radiographers were willing to teach, just that there was a knowledge gap," said Mr Chong. The radiographers knew that they possess the clinical skills, but lacked teaching skills, he added. "That's the gap we were trying to fill."
Determining the course(s) to send the radiographers to was the easy part, scheduling them for it was the challenge. "External courses were available, however it does not run on a weekly basis," Mr Chong said. He explained that even if weekly courses were available, and four radiographers were to attend each week, it would take over a year to cover all 130 radiographers. Hence, it made more sense to Mr Chong that the Department of Diagnostic Radiology (DIR) designed and conducted its own in- house workshops.
With the help of NHG Polyclinics Nurse Educator, Ms Christie Anna, Mr Chong received access to a wealth of resources: Ms Anna's professional development training expertise; and existing training materials from the nursing department, which he easily adapted and contextualised to radiography.
To better shape the content to meet the learning needs of the radiographers, Mr Chong collaborated with the education research arm of NHG Education, HOMER (Health Outcomes and Medical Education Research), to identify the key shortfalls in the radiographers' teaching approach and methods. This helped ensure that the shortfalls were addressed during the workshop, and the content relevant.
Fearing that the one-hour timeslot was insufficient for the radiographers to digest the information, Mr Chong engaged the assistance of NHG College to condense the training materials into six "bite-sized" parts, which would allow for effective learning to take place, and most importantly, the application of the concepts into daily practice.
The 'lunch-and-learn' workshop was well-received amongst the radiographers. Mr Chong noticed that upon completing the workshop, the radiographers now know how to develop and apply different approaches in their teachings; breaking the lessons, tasks or concepts down into specific parts which would aid the students learning and progression.
Two of the most noticeable changes were the increase in positive student feedback on the radiographers' teachings, and radiographer-student engagement. Some of the returning students shared that "the radiographers' attitudes towards teaching is different", said Mr Chong. "We are getting a lot more feedback from the students like, 'the radiographers asked me questions on how I think about a certain case, and how I actually make sense of certain things'," he shared. "The students are writing down more of the desired kind of behaviour that we (DIR) want, and what we hope to achieve with good educators."
An unexpected outcome from the 'lunch-and-learn' series was the increased interest to teach amongst the radiographers. As of now, seven radiographers have volunteered and signed up to be clinical educators for the new Diagnostic Radiography undergraduate programme at the Singapore Institute of Technology.
"Everyone has a clear understanding of what a teacher is now. What they need to teach, what the students need to learn, and how the students learn," said Mr Chong. He added that with the success of the 'lunch-and-learn' workshop, there may be plans to integrate it into future on-boarding programmes for incoming radiographers. "The new radiographers need to know that when they enter the department, they are expected to teach. And we want to equip them with the right tools right from the start," he concluded.