Round Out Education with a Lesson on Culture
Round Out Education with a Lesson on Culture
PART 2 Teaching takes more than technical know-how.
Myra Nisly Cherchio, COMT, Tarpon Springs, FL
Starting the process of training a new technician can be daunting. Diving directly into the training’s more complex aspects is a common error. At St. Luke’s, we made the mistake of throwing our trainees headfirst into learning technical jargon, optics, anatomy and a host of hands-on skills. Although we made quick progress imparting technical knowledge to new hires, as these staffers were deployed, it became clear something was missing.
In our zeal to develop solid refracting technicians, we neglected to develop a systematic way of sharing our core beliefs and culture. In the last several years, as more practices have resorted to on-the-job training, my colleagues and I have commiserated this loss. We also made many assumptions with regard to fundamentals of patient care that came naturally to seasoned staff, but were new concepts for trainees. It became clear that, while we turned out technicians who understood the mechanics of their job, we had failed to impart some of the basic skillsets that would be taken for granted in a seasoned technician.
Teaching a Culture
This problem became especially real with one of our recent hires. Ignoring our cell phone policy, she took a picture of one of our doctor’s schedules, complete with patients’ private protected information, and posted it on Facebook. Her status post was “Not very busy today.” We discovered the issue because one of her Facebook “friends” was astute enough to call our scheduling department to let us know. Unfortunately, this employee not only didn’t get it, she didn’t seem to have any comprehension of the consequences of her actions. While we had given her the technical information about HIPAA and patient privacy, we were not successful in making it relevant to real world situations.
A serious evaluation of our program commenced. We began our analysis by putting ourselves in the technicians’ position. We asked ourselves: what do new hires really understand about our practice’s culture? What do new hires find intimidating about patient care? What are specific customer service skills that we want to ingrain in them? What is the appropriate way to interact with the physician and patients? And how can we ignite passion for learning, and a desire to anticipate our doctors’ needs?
A Comprehensive Approach
We set out on a path to retool our training program. The first step was to develop an onboarding program to instill important patient care concepts, impart our culture, and set the tone for our expectations. From an HR standpoint, we had an intensive onboarding process. Staff hired for any role in the company watch videos on safety, compliance, and HIPAA. While our program covers many of the bases, we discovered that we didn’t create instruction through real world situations, and some of our new employees just didn’t get it.
Sharing Corporate Pride
We have recently implemented a “lunch-and-learn” format for our onboarding program to address these training gaps. During these presentations, a long-term employee keeps new hires engaged and interactive by sharing the rich history of our company. We brag a little about our legacy, corporate traditions, and surgeons' accomplishments. Our goal is to share our practice philosophy through examples and ignite a passion for excellence within our new staff. Ultimately, we want to develop their own internal drive to achieve and produce future leaders. We adapt our presentation to the audience size. Depending on the number of staffers who need the training, it can be beneficial to include those who may have experience, but whose enthusiasm could stand to be “reignited.”
Establishing Patient Care Basics
The second component of our program is to explain aspects of our daily routines that are second nature to those already experienced in patient care. Properly interacting with patients is one of the most basic, non-technical patient care skills. In our practice, it is unacceptable to refer to patients with pet names such as “honey” or “sweetie.” Since most of our patients are senior to our staff, we address them by Mr. or Mrs. unless directed otherwise. We try to emphasize the value we place on patients by using phrases like “my pleasure” instead of “no problem.”
We also make a point to teach, using real-world examples, several key intangible components, such as the value of our physicians’ trust in our staff, the impact of medical errors, the significance of a technician’s role in the practice, general protocols and policies. We explain our requirements for presentation and decorum, and how, as representatives of the practice, the critical role our staff plays as an internal marketing team.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we teach our corporate culture and legacy. We emphasize the value we place on education and JCAHPO certification, by sharing personal stories of staff whom have become successful in the company.
By starting off on the right foot and igniting a passion for learning, and developing strong loyalty to our organization, training our technicians has become a well-rounded experience. OP
Ms. Nisly Cherchio is the director of clinical operations at St. Lukes Cataract & Laser Institute in Tarpon Springs, FL. She can be reached at: email@example.com.
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