Background: Access to continuing education opportunities is limited for Ukrainian healthcare workers, and the need is acute in order to support healthcare reform efforts currently underway in Ukraine. Online learning is a cost-effective mechanism for continuing education since healthcare workers can remain on the job during training. It also provides a means of keeping health professionals up to date on their knowledge and skills in rapidly changing and increasingly complex healthcare environments.
Methods: This paper describes the process of adapting an existing e-learning course from a US institution to the Ukrainian setting. Course participants' feedback was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the adapted version that was piloted twice in 2016-2017 with 53 participants in total, 46 of whom completed the course and contributed to the evaluation.
Results: This was the first fully online course on Leadership and Management in Health (LMiH) to be offered in Ukraine. Several lessons were learned during course adaptation when multiple aspects of the Ukrainian environment were taken into account including 1) linguistic accessibility, 2) access to the Internet, 3) computer literacy, and 4) novelty of online learning. Based on these findings, course material was first adapted by translating it from English to Ukrainian with the emphasis on cultural adjustment of idioms and real life examples. Then, using the first pilot results and participants suggestions, videotaped interviews with local healthcare management experts were added in order to further enhance cultural suitability as well as relevance and applicability of the course concepts. The last but not least lesson learned consisted in the fact that enhancing, transitioning, and sustaining online learning to new contexts required engagement of key stakeholders, national level support, and technical assistance through implementation and beyond yet turned out to be both cost-effective and sustainable investment of limited resources. Formative evaluation confirmed that the adaptation efforts resulted in a course relevant and acceptable to healthcare professionals in Ukraine.
Conclusion: Transition of the course to local ownership was accomplished in partnership with the Ukrainian Family Medicine Training Center in the Bogomolets National Medical University in Kyiv: LMiH is now certified for continuing medical education credit and offered twice a year by this institution. Lessons learned from this experience provide a roadmap for rapidly increasing access to new knowledge and skills for healthcare workers by adapting existing online resources to local needs; they are used to facilitate rapid expansion of other continuing education offerings in Ukraine: additional online courses from the University of Washington (UW) are planned for adaptation.
Keywords: Continuing medical education; Distance learning; E-learning; Leadership and management; Sustainability of development investments; Transition to local ownership.