Think back to the last great workplace training experience you had. You might remember an energetic trainer that kept the room engaged, or exercises that were both challenging and relevant. Perhaps the material itself was interesting and had a direct impact on your work performance.
Or maybe, you’re drawing a blank — and if you are, you’re among the majority. Whether or not we want to admit it, healthcare employees rarely view healthcare IT training with enthusiasm and positivity. Why? Because they likely see this type of training as a necessary workplace evil that will only waste time and energy. Physicians and healthcare administrators, after all, are short on time as it is.
Yet, companies that invest in employee training experience a 24% higher profit margin than those that do not, and employees who complete training courses enjoy 37% greater productivity. So what’s the difference between a successful training strategy and a mediocre one? No matter the format, material, or delivery method, employee trainers are often the make-or-break element in and outside of the classroom. And for topics as complex as healthcare information technology, they are an even bigger factor in training success.
We’ve interviewed (and hired) our fair share of stellar HIT trainers, so we know what characteristics to look for. These are some of the qualities we look for in our trainers — and what you should be on the lookout for, too.
Strong Communication Skills
This might seem like a no-brainer, but truly strong communicators are often hard to spot. While most
extroverts can easily command attention during an
interview, the same cannot always be said for a classroom full of physicians and administrators (sometimes initially disengaged).
Effective educators of all kinds have one thing in common: the ability to command a room. Some trainers do this with effortless charisma while others do so with quiet control — but regardless of the way they do it, a successful healthcare IT trainer can walk into a room and have all eyes on them without so much as lifting a finger. This ability is critical for healthcare IT trainers because the material most often covered is complex, and is likely to overwhelm or bore trainees if not delivered well. Don’t mistake
a gregarious character with great communication skills, either, more often than not, the most effective communicators are those who speak less rather than more. Having confidence is perhaps the only way to keep smart individuals like physicians, nurses and administrators engaged.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised just how many trainers don’t have the necessary technical skills to be successful in HIT formats. Technical proficiency is a top priority for trainers, since this is often the only way that trainers can help bring learners up to speed on tools, systems, and processes.
Consider how users who are not particularly comfortable with computer-based systems might feel if they can’t get clear and simple answers about a program’s functionality. A highly-proficient trainer can walk through workflows with confidence, which in turn puts learners at ease.
Flexibility and the Ability to Improvise
Any highly experienced trainer knows that no two classrooms are the same — nor are any two lessons. There’s no way to predict what will happen during a training session, which means there’s no excuse for a trainer to halt a lesson just because something unexpected occurs.
Whether there’s a power outage, a slew of students arriving late, or an onslaught of “technical difficulties”, successful healthcare IT trainers can roll with the punches and stay on course. Often that means having the experience, flexibility, and creativity to come up with alternative exercises or activities so that trainees can continue to absorb information despite the unexpected.
The Ability to Bridge the Technical Gap
When it comes to healthcare IT training, rarely do trainers work with trainees that have strong technical knowledge. Most of the time, their audience is made up of decidedly non-technical (though highly knowledgeable) physicians, nurses, and healthcare administrators. Bridging the gap between their non-technical audience and the very technical material they’re covering takes tact and creativity.
Even more important, though, is the way the material gets translated. A delivery that’s too simplified might be perceived as condescending and childish, while anything saturated with complex, technical jargon will feel overwhelming and inaccessible.
Even for the most experienced trainers, finding the right balance is challenging. It takes strong knowledge of the source material and very high emotional intelligence to find the perfect middle ground.
A Knack for Storytelling
When you think of healthcare information technology, storytelling is hardly the first thing that comes to mind. Why would a healthcare IT trainer — or any professional trainer for that matter — need to be able to tell a story well? Think of it this way: any training environment, whether digital or physical, uses hypothetical situations to put learning objectives into perspective. Entering patient data, recording symptoms and prescriptions, looking up records… whatever an IT system is designed to do, it’s necessary to simulate these situations in order to learn how to use new technology effectively.
Mediocre trainers might simply leverage generic examples in order to walk trainees through a new process, but great trainers use experiences and examples that feel authentic to their audience. In the case of healthcare IT, that might mean asking trainees to provide examples of how a system might be used, and then weaving these examples into their delivery. Doing so helps illustrate the training value in a more convincing way, which boosts engagement overall.
The Key to Success: Finding the Right People
Finding the right healthcare IT trainer (or trainers) isn’t easy, but it’s a lot less challenging when you have the right partner when developing your training strategy. Specialized firms like HealthTek Global utilize an effective and time-tested rubric for assessing prospective trainers’ abilities — balanced with intrinsic knowledge of what makes a great HIT educator. Don’t undermine your entire HIT training strategy with the wrong trainer. A specialized recruitment partner can help you maximize your training budget by helping you identify not just the right material, but the right people, too.