What Business Schools can learn from the Medical Profession and the Importance of Work Based Learning

imagesToday’s post was inspired by an article I read in Harvard Business Review in which the author spoke about the advantage medical schools have over business schools because of most medical schools being affiliated with hospitals, allowing students exposure to real-world and real-time situations, in contrast to inserting business students into real-world managerial situations which is more challenging. Now as the author points out while it can be disconcerting for patients to put their lives in the hands of individuals who are still learning their profession, the medical profession supervises its trainees, giving them enough autonomy to learn while minimising the chance they harm their patients.

The author goes on to talk about how Harvard Business School has long used case studies as a method to project students into the role of managers solving problems and while acknowledging case studies as a very effective tool, also recognises the limitation for business students who can only imagine how they’d tackle a problem, whereas medical students are facing real-life health concerns. The author goes on to talk about a curriculum change Harvard is undertaking to close this knowing-doing gap.

This article resonated with me because of a meeting I had recently with a previous colleague who is now working with a leading university on Work Based Learning. The university has pioneered an Institute for Work Based Learning which partners directly with individual learners and organisations to create bespoke programmes from certificate through to doctorate level. Additionally they have partnered with two leading Business Schools by way of collaboration on the delivery of training. This initiative is further supported by the Work Based Learning Research Centre they’ve established allowing real-time understanding of the relationship between work practice and learning within organisations together with development needs in line with UK policy and international demands.

This is an area of further interest for me because many organisations have cut back on their training and development budget as a result of the current economic situation. Many have come to recognise the adverse impact this has had on their corporate growth strategy, particularly as many of these organisations have gone through downsizing and restructuring exercises, and as a result have lost valuable employees, causing intense pressure to the ‘survivors’ to not only steer through everyday challenges and increased workloads but also improve their skills and learning to allow them to perform in line with the needs and demands of their roles and organisational development.

Organisations always say employees are their most valuable asset but slashing training budgets doesn’t convey that message and is incongruent with that philosophy  Surely Work Based Learning is the solution to enable individuals and teams in bridging that knowing-doing gap that would support their organisation in achieving their business strategy.
Check Out http://www.mdx.ac.uk/wbl for further information on their learning programmes.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of School Of WorkLife Books & Your WorkLife Your Way: Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of www.schoolofworklife.com My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.

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