By now you’re probably tired of hearing how dire the nursing turnover rate is, especially how it’s only going to get worse as one-third of the entire nursing workforce retires in the next ten to fifteen years, and how the current nursing turnover rate of almost 20% is projected to rise in the next decade. But, while diagnosing the nurse staffing issue across the US is vital to understanding its causes, we’re not here to add more doom and gloom—we’re here to talk solutions.

As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog, career disillusionment is a major driver for nursing turnover within the first few years on the job ( From compassion fatigue to technostress to longer shifts created by the nursing shortage, it appears that the common denominator here is that we’re not providing our nurses with enough tools to make the transition from education to professional work environment, nor enough tools to keep their continuing medical and technological education up to speed throughout their career.

Can this overarching problem be solved with a single stroke? Of course not. But innovative technology can certainly help deliver our nurses the resources they need to help navigate the current healthcare environment. And a primary deliverer of those resources could very well be microlearning.

What is microlearning?

While one might initially assume that microlearning is merely a tutorial series of online videos, Patti Shank, author of Write and Organize for Deeper Learning and Practice and Feedback for Deeper Learning, combines three separate definitions to give a more complete picture:

Learning from content accessed in short bursts, content which is relevant to the individual, and repeated over time to ensure retention and build conceptual understanding.

-Donald Taylor

Small but complete learning experiences.

-Clark Quinn

Relatively short engagements in learning-related activities—that may provide any combination of content presentation, review, practice, reflection, behavioral prompting, performance support, goal reminding, persuasive messaging, task assignments, social interaction, diagnosis, coaching, management interaction, or other learning-related methodologies.

-Will Thalheimer

(“Microlearning, Macrolearning. What Does Research Tell Us”)

Shank combines these three definitions because they encompass the idea that microlearning must involve “complete learning experiences” that promote retention and understanding. Shank insists that the focus here is learning, not content. For example, merely providing a nurse with an eLearning platform comprised of hundreds of videos doesn’t equate to microlearning. If the nurse is viewing videos at random, there’s no true instructional architecture that guides the nurse in building proficiency within different areas.

Shank also stresses that microlearning is only useful if the learner already has a solid foundation of knowledge and skills. That same nurse could not have earned a degree solely by completing the exercises in an eLearning module. But, because the nurse is already heavily familiar with the clinical environment, filling in knowledge gaps on the job is much easier, because so much of the requisite context already exists in the nurse’s mind.

Implementing microlearning

Microlearning can be implemented in myriad ways across all levels of education (primary, secondary,  higher) and every industry. eLearning Industry lists 15 types of microlearning, broken into three categories:


Read View Learn
Infographics Animated Videos Interactive Parallax-Based Scrolling
Interactive Infographics Whiteboard Animation Mobile Apps
PDFs Kinetic Text-Based Animation Complex Branching Scenarios
Interactive PDFs Explainer Videos
eBooks & Flipbooks Interactive Videos
Expert Videos/Webinars


The crux of implementing these different microlearning forms depends upon the company or institution delivering the content. Companies like Grovo and Zunos offer microlearning platforms with various degrees of customization.

With Grovo, a company can either utilize the platform’s existing archive of lessons spanning, such areas as leadership, compliance, project management, and marketing, or create original content via Grovo templates or by uploading Powerpoint or SCORM files.

With Zunos, the focus is entirely on creating original content, allowing a company to create lessons within the module, as well as upload third-party content in HTML format.

How microlearning can impact nursing

A philosophy class vs. a staff of full-time RNs certainly present different availabilities in terms of extra time to learn and how the demonstration of that knowledge can be assessed. But in the healthcare field particularly, which requires care providers to constantly stay up-to-date of changes in technology, compliance, and procedures, microlearning certainly offers a means for improved learning outcomes.

Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (BCHO), for example, first used microlearning and gamification to train its ICU nurses on an incoming supply of new external ventricular drains (EVDs). The need for this microlearning module arose when the delivery of the EVDs was delayed by 60 days, which resulted in nurses not retaining their initial device training (“a series of traditional in-service training”). Because EVDs are “high-risk, low frequency” devices, it was crucial for BCHO to retrain the nurses as efficiently and successfully as possible.

BCHO’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) then collaborated with Elemeno Health, a University of California – San Francisco-backed innovation, to create a “cloud-based just-in-time training solution.” This microlearning module offered two videos of less than three minutes each and accessible on any web-based device, which walked nurses through the different operational steps of the EVDs. A two-week contest was then held where teams of nurses were rewarded points for viewing each video once. The module also contained a dynamic contest leaderboard which helped drive peer accountability.

The results? Out of the 79 nurses who registered, almost 70 percent watched both videos. BCHO was so pleased with the results, that they’ve since created 10+ microlearning videos concerning Level 1 Rapid Infusers, Codman DirectLink, Manual ICP, and Defibrillators.

This is only one example of the numerous ways microlearning can benefit nursing staffs. From onboarding to procedural and equipment training to shift duties and more, the opportunity is certainly there to equip nurses with the knowledge and expectations they need, which could very well help to reduce turnover rates by improving staff burnout and tech fluency.

The right tech for your business

At tekMountain, one of our primary objectives is connecting healthcare companies with the ideal tech for their current and long-term needs. When it comes to our current nursing shortage, innovative measures like microlearning promise to play a significant role in transitioning American healthcare toward a more efficient and cost-effective system.

Contact tekMountain today to learn more about how microlearning can revolutionize your company.

This blog was produced by the tekMountain Team of Sean AhlumAmanda SipesKelly Brown, Elyssa Miller and Bill DiNome with lead writer Zach Cioffi.

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