healthcare outcomes. ANPD first conducted an education
needs survey in 2013.
“Rather than relying on speculation or hearsay, surveys
also pave the way for education programs to unite the needs of
your members with the requirements of accrediting bodies,”
Don’t confuse an education needs survey with the traditional post-conference or post-classroom surveys. A broad
membership questionnaire can guide an association’s overall
goals, but an education-specific survey reveals what your
members really need from their education programs.
The education needs survey should be customized to the
organization. Tailored questions about what education would
benefit members on-the-job and what formats are most acces-
sible provide actionable data for associations.
Results should include a comprehensive analysis that
guides organizations in addressing the continuing education
needs of its members.
How Do You Conduct an Education
Start with a plan. Being strategic, thinking critically, asking
the right questions and providing the right incentives for respondents will ensure the results provide meaningful data and
actionable information. The well-crafted plan will also help
The Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA),
an international association serving over 1,600 clinical labo-
ratory professionals, completed an education needs survey in
“Our survey was created with the goal of gaining recom-
mendations that would shape our education programs for
the next three years,” said Abigail Lynn, CLMA’s executive
“Unlike the questions we ask at the end of a conference,
which are rooted in a specific event or place, we asked
pointed questions about what members need to do their jobs
and what education CLMA could offer that would help them,”
CLMA engaged education and market research experts to
advise on what questions would provide the most insightful
data. They thought critically about when and how the survey
would be deployed, wanting it to coincide with the association’s annual conference, but not be confused with the
post-conference survey. So the team activated the survey one
week before the conference and promoted it during the event.
They were also mindful of members’ ability and interest in
“We kept it short, only 30 questions, and made sure mem-
What are the Barriers?
bers knew it would take 10 minutes or less to fill out,” Lynn
said. “We also gave them incentives. Members who completed
the survey had the option to be entered in a raffle to win a
free membership or educational offerings.”
CLMA is currently following up with focus groups to dive
deeper into the survey results to help fill in gaps in the data
and make the results more meaningful for CLMA as it devises
its three-year education plan.
Associations wanting to deploy a quality education needs
survey will encounter a number of obstacles including costs
and response rate.
There are numerous options for conducting an education
needs survey such as hiring a consultant, using a survey com-
pany or just engaging your internal team.
Although the internal team option may save money, your
team might not be equipped to properly execute an education needs survey and you run the risk of questions not being
framed effectively to generate accurate responses. While
working with an outside consultant brings a high level of expertise in market research, the consulting costs of quantitative
research can range from $15,000 to $100,000.
If your results are exactly what you expected or you’ve
heard the same feedback before, then it’s likely your survey
questions lacked clarity or depth. That’s why strategy should
guide the survey development.
Another pitfall occurs when your education strategy is