Ongoing Training of Medical Practice Staff Worth the Time, Money

November 17, 2011

From EHR use to simply knowing a colleague’s job, ongoing training at your medical practice is a worthy investment.

Most every staff member in our practice knows how to do more than one job. When you have just two physicians and five supporting employees, only one absentee means your support staff takes a 20 percent hit, so each staff member and their knowledge and competencies are an investment for us. We cross-train by default and try to train before we are “forced to” but sometimes that happens, and in those cases it hasn’t been a bad way to learn.

Our practice management system / electronic health record (EHR) software is an important consideration in our training. Luckily our combined system is pretty easy to use; in fact we spend more time showing a new employee around the office than training them on the technology. We just need to give them a login and password to start, and they typically pick it up quickly. At the most, we may show them the basics, but very briefly, which is just as well because I am not the world’s best teacher.

For anything about the system that isn’t easy to grasp, the technology has multiple training videos that show how to complete any tasks step-by-step. These videos are available for all levels, and I definitely rely on them when a new feature comes out or during beta testing. Another underrated resource is the help file, which I find myself using quite often.

We’re also fortunate that our system supports cross-functionality. In other words, the back office has access to the same things our front office does. This means that the two nurses in the back office and the three in the front office don’t have to pass paper charts around, as we would have to do if we were a paper-based office.

This cross-functionality also helps when we do need to learn each other’s jobs. Because we don’t have a lot of room for employees to be promoted, trying out different jobs is a small benefit. Even though people are creatures of habit, change can be a good thing. Employees like the challenges of something new and the ability to change it up and do something else once in a while. In this case, we also get a strong appreciation for each other’s work, which you can only get by sitting in someone else’s seat for a day or two.

Besides our built-in training system with our practice management system and EHR, we offer other materials for employees, buying materials like books, video training, continuing medical education (CME) as needed, and offering the opportunity to take specific college courses applicable to the job.

Even though our training isn’t completely structured, it still exists and is used and appreciated. To be successful, we’ve found that you need to make sure people understand why they are learning what they are learning. And you have to look at it as an investment - which is exactly what it is.

Find out more about Derrick Berger and our other Practice Notes bloggers.