Never stop learning: Continuing education in health care


Health care professionals learn all the important fundamentals they need for their future career during their training but not until later on in their professional life will they still add more practical skills. Plus, the demands of the health care sector are changing and thus requiring new skills. Skills that can be obtained in numerous professional development courses for example.

Photo: Several people in a room during continuing education; Copyright:

Professional development courses help people working in the care sector to get further qualification; ©

The selection of these types of advanced training courses has continuously grown over the past few years. When the two degree programs of health care and health science at the University of Applied Sciences Hamburg (HAW), Germany, launched as a combined degree program 20 years ago, just 40 students were enrolled. At this point, students can choose between three bachelor’s and four master’s degree programs. The practice-oriented degree programs are aimed at health care professionals and professionals in the fields of midwifery, occupational and physical therapy as well as speech therapy for example. The expansion of choices over the years is a response to the increasing need for professionalization in this industry.

Like the HAW in Hamburg, the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Dresden (Evangelische Hochschule Dresden) has also offered the eight-semester dual studies bachelor’s degree program called "Pflege dual" since the winter semester 2015/16. Practical portions are a set fixture this study program. During their studies, students learn the job of nursing, health care or geriatric area professionals. This combination of theory and practice is the first of its kind in Saxony and is funded by the state government.

But specializations and the concentration in particular areas are also on the rise. The Rhenish University of Applied Science in Cologne (RFH) for instance, has started to offer the "Intensive Health Care Management" degree program as of earlier this year. It is aimed at health professionals who would like to obtain an academic degree in management. The objective of the work-study bachelor’s degree program is to improve the quality of patient care and create new career prospects for health care professionals.

At its Center for Continuing Education and Knowledge Management (Zentrum für Weiterbildung und Wissensmanagement), ZWW, the Regensburg University of Applied Sciences (Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Regensburg), OTH, offers the option of obtaining qualifications in its "Dual BSc Care" bachelor’s degree (in Healthcare Management) over eleven semesters to qualify for management positions. This is aimed at both health care and nursing professionals as well as geriatric care professionals and midwives with work experience.

The Witten/Herdecke University (UW/H) offers yet another option for those who not only want to continue their own professional education but also want to actively support others in doing so: for the third time since July 2016, tutors are being trained to support students in health care-related undergraduate degrees. Health care professionals with college degrees (bachelor, master, PhD) learn how to assist students pursuing their bachelor’s degree in their scientific reflection papers pertaining to problems in practical health care situations. The continuing education takes place in blocks of study time over the course of four weekends.

You can even take all of this one step further at the College of Philosophy and Theology, Vallendar (Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule Vallendar), PTHV, and pursue a teaching degree in "Healthcare for Vocational Schools". As of late, the PTHV also offers the new bachelor’s degree program called "Healthcare Expertise". Building on vocational training in health care, it provides a profound continuing education option for health care professionals. This is a work-study degree program and is offered in part in cooperation with various sponsoring organizations.

This sneak peek into the continuing education options for health care professionals in Germany already provides a first glimpse into the variety of available work-related qualifications. During the course of demographic changes, the need for these types of choices will definitely continue to rise over the next few years.

Photo: Nadine Lormis; Copyright: B. Frommann

© B. Frommann

Nadine Lormis
(translated by Elena O'Meara)

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