4 Steps to Learning a New Skill

In a changing work environment we permanently have to learn new skills to become and stay uptodate. In a 60-hour-week it can be challenging to acquire new knowledge and skills. But with the right plan it is possible.


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Throughout my studies and  my career I had several chances  to learn a new skill.  Some of them I used and learned something for my carreer, others I failed, because I had no strategy.
I learned that I need a 4-step plan, regardless what it is that you want to learn :
  • Ultrasound techniques
  • A new Operation Procedure
  • Heart Auscultation
  • Placing Catheters
  • Lumbar puncture

Here are my 4 steps to make sure you get the most out of your chance. 

  1. Read and aquire informaton about the skill. This is critical. You need to gather the theoretical knowledge about the skill  before you actually start practicing it. If your mentor has to teach you the very basics (e.g. the Machine setup, Views etc) he won’t have any time to teach you the actual skill. Any pilote knows the theory of flying before he enters the cockpit(I hope). Also it’s not very motivating for your teacher when he realizes that up to this point you have had no interest in the skill. Ask your mentor before you start if they have recommendations for good books. Before you start learning the skill look at the machines and devices you will use so you will be prepared.  It won’t help to build trust in you, when you ask which way the needle is supposed to go in the spinal canal. So be prepared! This will enable you to take the next step:
  2. Ask smart questions.While theoretical knowledge is important, many tricks and techniques cannot be learned from books and courses. It’s again motivating for every teacher to have an interested and well-prepared student, who thinks about what he’s doing. By asking specific questions you show that you have thought about the technique and are well-prepared, which will motivate your teacher to show you some tricks.
  3. Watch your mentor as much as possible: some things cannot be read or explained, some things just have to be observed. And by watching different teachers you will see that everybody has a slightly different strategy and technique. Whatever works best for you, you’ll find out by applying step 4:
  4. Practice! In the end this is the most important step in learning any new skill. No skill can be learned from theory and watching alone. And if you really want to become a pro at any skill you will have to sacrifice a great amount of freetime in order to learn the skill. While practicing you can try out different techniques and tricks. Try to implement it into your workflow whenever you can. Call your mentor whenever possible, if he could have a look over your shoulder to be taught during practice. An engaged student is a positive reinforcement for any teacher.
Question: What kind of strategies do you use when you learn a new skill? Please leave a comment!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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