I’ve been in the Healthcare IT (HIT) field for eight years, and have spent a large amount of time in the training and development area; both as a trainer and as a training leader. My main focus has been on EHR training, an area that is often met with a number of challenges for both trainer and trainee. Staff often arrive to training sessions less than enthused to learn a new system. Why? Because EHR training often loads quite a bit of information into a short window of time, and staff is expected to learn and retain this information. Additionally, it can be quite challenging teaching non-technical clinicians, technical information. With that being said, there are three concepts I wish every training leader or potential trainer understood about EHR training prior to developing, or participating in, a successful training program.
1. Training is Skill – Not Everyone Can Train
There is a misperception that training is easy, and anyone can do it as long as they are comfortable with public speaking. This is simply not true, especially when it comes to EHR training. While comfort does help, I tell trainers that this area of expertise is a science and an art. The “science” consists of proven techniques that allow the trainer to:
- Deliver important information so that it sticks
- Translate technical information so the clinician can understand
- Overcome a variety of disruptions in the classroom
- Keep a classroom engaged
The “art” of training is your personality and how to use it to deliver these proven training techniques. The mastery of both the science and the art of training is what makes great trainers. Very few individuals are lucky enough to have these gifts naturally and, while I believe most can learn to become skilled trainers, it often takes mentorship from others, leadership from your training leaders, time and practice to master the wonderful skill of successfully educating others.
2. It’s Okay to Follow a Script
We’ve all experienced someone reading the slides back to the group, or a trainer who memorizes the script verbatim, and the boredom that follows. A truly comprehensive learning experience simply can’t occur in these environments. It can be tempting to believe that having a script of any sort is not appropriate. However, if you are not following a script, how are you ensuring each class gets all the information they need, or that there is consistency in your message? With EHR training, it is vitally important that staff learn all the necessary information consistently. Otherwise, there is a risk they will learn to use the system in a manner it was not intended. Develop a high-level script and practice delivering in a conversational format. I even practice my well-timed jokes so it sounds like I just thought of them! Much like an actor, a trainer must learn how to follow a script,a skill takes time and practice to master.
3. If You’re Not Tired After a Day of Leading Classes, You’re Probably Not Doing It Right
Forgetting for a moment the physical exhaustion of standing on your feet for 2, 4 or 8 hours delivering a training session, there is another form of exhaustion: mental. A trainer’s primary responsibility to is keep the class engaged. Without class engagement, it’s difficult for impactful learning to occur. Keeping a class engaged takes work and it’s not easy; especially when leading a class on technology, or how to use an EHR. Often times, many classroom attendees don’t want to be there and don’t find technical training particularly interesting. However, it is our job as trainers to overcome these barriers, keep our class engaged and ensure learning occurs. This is no simple feat, and most successful trainers I know find themselves physically and mentally tired at the end of a great training day.
EHR Training and Development is an especially fulfilling area in which to work, as we are training teams how to deliver the project to end-users. This training will likely shape how your end-users view, accept and ultimately succeed at the implementation. For HIT leaders, I encourage you to find training leaders who understand these concepts, as they will be instrumental in the development of your training department. Successful training departments lead to successful implementations. For those who are interested in becoming a trainer, find the right mentors or leaders to guide you and practice, practice, practice. Outstanding trainers are built on the foundation of mentorship and the drive to master the skill.
These are my thoughts and experiences during my eight years in the HIT field. What are your thoughts and experiences? Please comment below….