Vicarious Learning in the Time of Coronavirus


Health professionals confronting the COVID-19 pandemic need to learn vicariously—that is, learn the lessons of others’ experiences—if they are to adopt and spread best practices for treatment, avoid costly repetition of prior mistakes, and not waste time “reinventing the wheel.” Digital communication tools and social media could be leveraged to facilitate this vicarious learning in much the same way that they are being used to support other types of interpersonal interactions amid social distancing. Yet these tools are often not used to their full potential for learning and knowledge sharing among health professionals fighting COVID-19. Drawing on organizational and behavioral science research into how individuals and organizations learn from others’ experiences, I recommend guidelines, policies, and practices that can increase both the use and the effectiveness of technological tools and social media to enhance vicarious learning among the health professionals at the front lines of pandemic care.

Behavioral Science & Policy

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