Innovation and adaptability are key to the success of learning and development in healthcare. Professor Debbie Porteous shares how their dynamic approach to professional development is meeting the changing needs and requirements of the sector

The pandemic has profoundly changed the health care sector and the lives and education of health professionals. As a result, the linear career path commonly adopted in health care has shifted. Paired with the cost-of-living crisis, further restricting people’s freedom and funds to study, now more than ever before we are experiencing a greater demand for innovative learning opportunities which are dynamic, hybrid and flexible.

At Northumbria University we continue to see interest in our health courses, apprenticeships and continuing professional development programmes from a wide variety of age groups, backgrounds and career stages. As a result, we are constantly evolving our offer to ensure it meets the needs of both the sector and our students; we understand that one size does not fit all.

CCE Northumbria Logo New

A core part of this is our hybrid approach to online learning. We pair the flexibility to learn remotely with a component of face-to-face tutoring and hands-on skills development, as the importance of social interaction and practical application is still a crucial part of professional development.

Our CPD framework enables qualified staff to continue to learn throughout their careers so they can keep their skills and knowledge up to date and practice safely and effectively. There has been significant investment by health trusts to support the qualified workforce and they recognise that to retain staff they need to offer flexible approaches to learning.

Our CPD framework teaches up to Masters level and is delivered in modules so participants can choose when to engage. They can take up to five years to complete the programme, with the option of evening and weekend modules to accommodate demand and provide greater flexibility.

We recognise that continued innovation and adaptability are paramount to the success of learning and development in health care

To plan appropriately, we are continually engaging with students, partnership boards, trust directorates and chief nurses to discuss and gain an understanding of both the workforce pipeline and the capabilities required for the future.

We recognise that continued innovation and adaptability are paramount to the success of learning and development in health care. A common frustration expressed in the sector, which has an extremely mobile workforce, is the inability to ‘transfer’ or to take previous learning from one job to another. Often mandatory training and accreditations are not recognised when individuals secure a new role or move to a new organisation.

A “learning passport” – an online record of an individual’s career history, current skills, competencies and training record – would enable the employee to carry their CPD record with them and would ensure that credits and training are recognised and not lost in the process. A system such as this would help to capture data and contribute to the continuum of health professionals’ education and their commitment to life-long learning.

Northumbria University is regarded as a preferred provider, and we have national recognition for our programmes. We pride ourselves on our responsive and flexible approach to understanding and meeting the changing needs and requirements of the sector. The “learning passport” idea is just one example of our innovative thinking and our passion for supporting health care professionals on their lifelong learning journey.

To find out more about Northumbria University’s health programmes and apprenticeships, visit: