It would be hard to deny that learning is a big part of being a human.
When we are born, we come into this world without any knowledge or understanding of it. Everything that we know now, we had to learn.
This learning happened in many ways and came from a variety of sources. When we are very young, our parents bare most of the responsibility for teaching us about life. Later, schools and educators take the lead in filling our minds with knowledge, which can last more than a decade or two depending on the amount of formal education a person receives. And all throughout this time, we also learn lessons from personal experiences and the experiences of other people who are close to us.
After all this learning is done—not to mention the learning we must do when we start a new job or advance further in our career—we might feel that we’ve learned enough. After all, learning is often challenging, and it’s comforting to believe that we know enough. However, we believe in lifelong learning at Cummins Behavioral Health, not least because it helps us provide the best possible care for our consumers.
Continuous learning is one of our core organizational values, and it influences everything from our team’s professional development to how they work with consumers. To learn more about continuous learning at Cummins, we spoke with two of our staff members who embody this value in their work: Joel Sanders, a School-Based Therapist in Hendricks County, and Jennifer Knight, one of our Onboarding Specialists.
In this post, they explain why continuous learning matters and how they embrace it in their work.
Joel Sanders: Learning More to Improve Consumer Care
One reason we believe in continuous learning at Cummins is because it improves the quality of care we can provide to our consumers. When our care providers have up-to-date knowledge about mental health disorders and the best methods for treating them, they can help their clients achieve better outcomes.
For example, Joel views continuous learning as a way of getting better at his craft. “I always want to learn more about mental health because it means I’m providing the best care and support for the kids I see,” he says.
In fact, Joel believes that improving in his work is more than a just nice bonus for his consumers. He views it as an obligation. “The kids I see deserve it. They deserve my very best,” he says. “I’m also super passionate about it, so I’m constantly wanting to learn everything I can. It helps me to better serve my kids.”
The main way Joel practices continuous learning is by attending optional trainings and workshops that teach new therapeutic skills. “I am always interested in going to trainings and workshops,” he says. “The information you get there is invaluable, and the resources and networking are incredibly helpful.”
Joel mentions that one of his favorite topics to learn about is trauma and trauma-informed care. “I swear that I could be a full-time trauma workshop attendee,” he jokes.
On top of his desire to serve his clients, Joel also says that his colleagues help to inspire his passion for continuous learning. He explains,
“I think my co-workers inspire me to learn more and always try to improve myself. One of them in particular shares my drive and passion for continuous learning. It’s almost like we push one another. I am constantly sharing workshops and training opportunities with this co-worker. We are always talking about trauma and how we can learn more about it so we can best serve our kids. I love talking about trauma, so it’s pretty easy and natural to engage in continuous learning about it.”
Jennifer Knight: Empowering Staff to be Continuous Learners
Another reason we believe so strongly in continuous learning is because it tends to go hand-in-hand with growth mindsets.
To put it briefly, a growth mindset is the belief that we can improve and develop our talents with practice and hard work. The alternative to a growth mindset is a fixed mindset, which is the belief that our abilities are determined at birth and cannot be improved or developed.
A growth mindset is just as important for our staff as it is for the individuals we serve. As one of our onboarding specialists, Jennifer works hard to encourage a growth mindset among each new person who joins our team.
“For me, continuous learning is having a growth mindset and accepting that growth is not always linear,” she says. “Sometimes, we grow and learn more through the setbacks and failures we experience rather than via successes.”
As Jennifer points out, some amount of failure is inevitable whenever we are trying to do something that’s difficult. She believes that a continuous learning mindset can help us stay motivated in spite of setbacks. “Continuous learning is important because it not only conditions us to be able to handle challenges and struggles, but also to feel gratitude in areas where we may not have previously,” she says.
Like Joel, Jennifer views continuous learning as a team effort. For example, she believes that she learns from her co-workers just the same as she helps them learn new concepts. She explains,
“I live out my passion for learning and growth at Cummins by valuing the relationships that I have with my colleagues and teammates when sharing our experiences in the field and learning from one another. I think I inspire my co-workers to continue learning and growing by trying to always stay positive and encouraging, as well as by highlighting the many positive qualities and strengths they have but may not always see in themselves.”
At Cummins, we believe that we are never finished learning. When we work with our consumers, we ask that they learn about their mental health and wellness, learn new life skills and coping strategies, and sometimes even learn new habits and routines. Our providers also commit themselves to continuous growth in order to serve our consumers the very best way we know how.
We would like to thank Joel Sanders and Jennifer Knight for sharing their thoughts and for acting as models of continuous learning among our staff. Your commitment to our consumers is what makes our organization remarkable!
If you enjoyed this blog post about continuous learning at Cummins, then you might enjoy reading about our other organizational values below!