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Successful IME programs using adult learning principles: Part 4 (Immediate application)

Posted by Caroline Halford


Welcome back to my blog series on adult learning principles. AKA the handbook of educational design that we at Springer Healthcare IME use when constructing our programs.  

Why is educational design important?  Because we need to make sure that the teaching reaches the audience, keeps them engaged, and that learners can retain the knowledge and use it. 

You can view previous blogs from this series HERE

I would love to know what you think. Do these formats resonate with you? Would you have done anything differently with an educational program? Please send me a message at or via LinkedIn at  and I’ll get back to you.

Immediate action: can I use it now?

Healthcare professionals often prefer learning experiences where they can immediately apply their knowledge and new skills in practice. That’s why today’s blog focuses on the adult learning principle of relevance.  

Well-constructed programs can provide opportunities for learners to test out what they have learnt in a safe environment. Through hands-on practice or interactive online programs, learners can put their skills to the test.  If they get the answer wrong, that’s ok – it’s an opportunity to receive feedback and learn the reasons why. If they get it right, there’s an immediate feeling of satisfaction of skill progression. So that by the time the physician gets back to work, they feel confident in their improved clinical practice.

In both scenarios, this gives IME programs rich user data that we can use to improve the next iteration. For the questions/tasks that everyone answered correctly – this tells us that the curriculum did its job. For the questions/tasks that learners were getting wrong – this tells us that more work needs to be done. We can explore different formats and new programs to fix these learning gaps.

Using this principle within Springer Healthcare IME programs

Hopefully you’ll remember my last blog, which talked about our program ‘Preparing for the new area of neuroimaging for Alzheimer’s disease’,* with interactive tools that helped learners analyse PET scans and identify abnormalities that might spell Alzheimer’s. This program could be used to practise diagnosis using real-world examples in a safe setting to improve patient outcomes. 

Another example of immediate application is our innovative program ‘Biomarker-driven management of NSCLC’.** Since the discovery of oncogenic driver mutations and the development of targeted therapies, patients can now receive tailored treatments that are more likely to show benefit for their specific cancer biology. However, to optimize outcomes, oncologists need to be aware of the biomarkers they should be testing for, ensure they are ordering the correct tests to identify them, and ensure they allow for sufficient biopsy tissue and time to collect these results in order to prescribe the best targeted therapy.

Within this program, Springer Healthcare IME and the faculty developed an interactive clinical pathway tool that guides learners through how to test for NTRK fusions. The pathway is infused with expert videos, key clinical trial summaries and links to relevant references. Best of all – after completing the activity, users can download a PDF of the entire diagnostic pathway to use in clinical practice.

In summary, by delivering interactive tools that are centered around real-life scenarios, these two programs allow learners to gain confidence in our safe environments and apply these new skills once they have gained confidence and competence, thus utilizing the ‘immediate application’ tenet of adult learning.


*This activity is supported by an educational grant from Lilly.

**This independent medical education program is supported by an educational grant from Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.