Editor’s Note: The following article is a response to the APSF’s request for manufacturer’s feedback on technology training initiatives (See Fall 2006 and Winter 2007-2008 issues of this Newsletter for background information.
Covidien’s patient monitoring business recognizes that effective product training promotes staff efficiency and ultimately affects patient care. Covidien field representatives responsible for training their accounts on Nellcor™ pulse oximetry systems institute a number of strategies to promote a successful transfer of knowledge and skills to those people who will be using the products daily.
Gaining commitment and participation in training sessions was recognized as a key challenge by APSF. After a new product installation, scheduling the inservice training sessions is the first step. To bolster attendance, it is important to offer training that covers a variety of shifts. Ideally sessions are scheduled for day shift, evening shift, and even weekends in order to reach as many staff members as possible. Scheduling training around staff meetings and other structured events helps encourage attendance, as clinicians are already in a specific gathering place and away from their daily duties. In addition, participating in a Skills Day or other special training event sponsored by the hospital is a great way to take advantage of a “captive” audience.
Once the training is scheduled, making clinicians aware of the sessions is crucial. The hospital plays an integral role in advertising the training, and it may employ different media such as posters, email, and announcements at staff meetings to get the word out.
Erich, a Covidien field representative, said, “When the customer does a good job of marketing our availability, that’s when I see my greatest success.”
From the manufacturer’s side, a lack of time to adequately cover content can be addressed by paying attention to logistics. The trainer should allow ample time for the training session itself, and block off time before and after the actual session to catch stragglers and be able to answer individual questions. During the training session, it helps to have a sign-in sheet, which lets the staff know they are expected to attend.
To address the issue of increasing complexity of medical technology, Covidien believes strongly in follow-up training. The basic functionality of the Nellcor™ patient monitor can be covered in the initial inservice session. Then, in follow-up training—typically conducted a week to a few weeks later—the trainer provides more in-depth instruction on new or advanced features of the product.
For more complex technology, training is covered in multiple phases. It’s important to not overwhelm the staff with more information than they can remember in a single session. “They need to feel successful with it right away,” said Michelle, a Covidien field representative, “or they won’t want to use the product or continue with training.”
Another successful training strategy is to conduct an individual train-the-trainer session with a “super user.” This key user can help collect questions from other staff members for follow-up training and also serve as an internal resource to help others understand the Nellcor™ equipment better. Equipping these key users with company-produced materials such as training videos, competency checklists, and quick guides helps them provide guidance to their colleagues that is consistent with the company’s training.
Even when training is not formally evaluated, the representatives delivering it have their own ways to measure its effectiveness. During follow-up training, they get a good sense of how successful the first training was, based on their interactions with the clinicians and the types of questions they ask. Good trainers know that if they inservice right the first time, they have a lot fewer headaches down the road. As Carrie, another Covidien field representative put it, “Success is measured by how few phone calls I get afterward!”
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