Tuesday, 16 Aug 2022

Could the skills gained from military training help to tackle pandemics better?

In a new study published in New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, researchers have highlighted the skills developed from military training and services, which might be beneficial while responding to the current health crisis due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Additionally, the current study focuses on developing new strategies for human resource development (HRD) professionals to tackle the pandemic based on wisdom gathered from military training in diverse organizations.

Study: Learning to navigate a global pandemic from military training. Image Credit: Nuk2013/Shutterstock

Background

To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 6.3 million lives worldwide. This pandemic has been caused by the rapid outbreak of a novel coronavirus, namely, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Researchers have suggested that a lack of coordinated response across all levels of government is one of the major contributing factors associated with failing to curb the virus transmission. HRD professionals must focus on developing a consistent and organized communication system in response to the health crisis.

Typically, during any national crisis, such as combating terrorism or responding to a state-wide emergency, local, state, and federal governments seek military support. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this was not the case. Previous studies investigated how society operated in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment along with a military response to a similar crisis.

HRD professionals play a key role in supporting employee wellbeing by developing a resilient, critical thinking, and disciplined workforce prepared to tackle life’s crises. Similarly, the U.S. Military prepares its workforce to operate in challenging and life-threatening crises. The authors believe that military training experiences can educate civilians so that they can combat future pandemics or uncertain events more effectively.

About the study

Scientists reported that perceptions from military training could improve the present COVID-19 crisis and prepare individuals to tackle a similar future crisis more efficiently. The current pandemic has highlighted the importance of facilitating quick changes for a better outcome, and VUCA settings typically demand dynamic changes in response to the crisis. The military personnel are trained to efficiently function in the VUCA environment, comparable to the current COVID-19 pandemic that has caused a massive economic crisis, cognitive distress, and healthcare crisis.

During the pandemic, millions of Americans filed for unemployment, missed mortgage payments, and faced an immense economic crisis. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has also affected the mental and physical wellbeing of society. In addition to the hoax messages related to the pandemic, inconsistencies in messages by media, governing bodies, and healthcare organizations have raised vaccine hesitancy and many other problems. HRD could help address this issue by developing a consistent messaging system across the organization, which could keep individuals and families within organizations safe in the future healthcare crisis.

The authors stated that as the military prepares the workforce to deal with a crisis, HRD professionals can focus on science and valid guidelines from healthcare policymakers to alleviate the uncertainties. The military also adapted to the COVID-19 crisis and established new practices to maintain the health and wellbeing of its workforce.

Some of the common strategies followed by the military to prepare their team, which could be implemented by HRD professionals in their workforce, are critical thinking, mission-focused skills, resilience, and integrity. Additionally, eradicating dangerous myths evoked by hoax messages is important to ensure the healthy state of a workforce. These skills help soldiers, aviators, marines, and sailors survive and thrive in stressful conditions.

Critical thinking has been regarded as an essential skill across different types of jobs. This skill is also beneficial while tackling the current pandemic. Critical thinking has been described as one’s ability to consistently analyze and process information based on available data and make sound decisions. The military trains its workforce to effectively deconstruct a problem, which provides a better understanding of the situation and helps arrive at a safe, ethical, logical, and lasting decision. 

HRD can enhance an employee’s ability to think critically. After establishing a crisis, visual and interactive sessions can be implemented for employees to foster how their behavior can influence the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. These interactions could enhance the critical thinking ability of employees, which will help them foresee how an action can enhance the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This practice can help prevent super spreader events.

The U.S military describes resilience as the ability to emotionally and physically cope with adversities and quickly recover and grow from setbacks. The concept of resilience also includes one’s ability to ask for support when required. HRD professionals need to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals and support them through “thinking traps” of challenging situations.

Conclusion

The authors aimed to stimulate discussions related to managing and mitigating future healthcare crises in an organization by implementing certain perceptions of military training. Military training perceptions, such as critical thinking, resilience, and focus, could provide valid insights to HRD to prepare the workforce to tackle difficult situations. 

Journal reference:
  • Kirchner, J.M and Biniecki, Y.S. (2022) Learning to navigate a global pandemic from military training. New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. 34(2), pp. 16-26. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/nha3.20356 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/nha3.20356

Posted in: Medical Science News | Medical Research News | Disease/Infection News

Tags: Coronavirus, Coronavirus Disease COVID-19, covid-19, Education, Healthcare, Pandemic, Respiratory, SARS, SARS-CoV-2, Severe Acute Respiratory, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Syndrome, Vaccine, Virus

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Written by

Dr. Priyom Bose

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.

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