Boot Camp for New Employees

February 19, 2010

When a new employee doesn't work out it is usually for one of two reasons: Either you hired the wrong person or you didn't provide the right training.

When a new employee doesn’t work out it is usually for one of two reasons: Either you hired the wrong person or you didn’t provide the right training and support. A new employee that is left on her own too soon is likely to feel insecure and fearful of making a mistake or looking stupid. Without the right training you set your new employee up to fail. It leads to frustration, poor quality, and high turnover. So give new employees the attention they deserve.

Each practice needs to develop its own boot camp to help new employees become acclimated to their positions and understand and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their jobs well. The same is true for existing employees that are transferred to a new position. Every successful boot camp should include the following components:

Orientation. Boot camp should begin with an orientation. This should be broad enough to cover all the issues pertaining to employment with your practice. Of course it’s the time to issue passwords, door keys, and complete HR paperwork, but don’t forget to outline your practice’s mission statement and history. It is the best time to make sure that your new employees review your practice’s employee manual and gain a clear understanding of office policies and issues critical to employment in a medical office, such as HIPAA requirements. Discuss these before moving on to the position requirements and the practice’s training plan.

Job Description. Sit down with each new employee and discuss their job description and explain how the primary tasks fit into the rest of the practice. Follow this session by having the new employee shadow someone that performs this job well. That staffer should be prepared to explain what he is doing, why, and what the expected outcome is. Encourage the trainee to ask questions. The job description is the foundation to training a new employee and helping her understand your practice’s expectations.

Learning Objectives. Develop standards for each of the primary tasks listed in all job descriptions. Use these as an instrument to create training modules. For example, if your scheduler is expected to schedule 30 appointments a day with 98 percent accuracy, and is required to end each conversation with the patient by asking “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” then these should be part of the standards set for that position. Objective measures are critical to providing a successful training program - one that imposes reasonable expectations, and achievable goals.

Training Schedule. Establish a training schedule listing each task, the processes involved to complete them, how progress will be measured, the expected outcomes, and time frame for mastering each skill. It is important to allow enough time at the end of each session - or before the next session - to review performance and provide the encouragement and support essential to help your new employee become both competent and confident in her job.

Developing an internal boot camp for new employees is one of the most important things you can do for your practice. Doing so ensures that new employees are given the skills they need to be successful in supporting your practice’s needs, providing superior patient service, and developing their own career goals. It is truly a win-win scenario.

Judy Capko is a healthcare consultant and author of the popular books “Secrets of the Best Run Practices” and “Take Back Time.” Based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., she is a national speaker on healthcare topics. She can be reached at judy@capko.com or 805 499 9203.