I'm a big believer in using in-house training to conduct staff education and training. Keeping personnel on-site is a great way to present targeted lessons they can put right into practice - at little or no cost to your facility. Here are four suggestions for effective in-houses.
Make in-service a priority
Staff may frown at having to attend regular in-services. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to set aside one day each month for mandatory in-services. You may even consider tape-recording the sessions for the benefit of employees who are on vacation or otherwise unavailable.
To minimize overtime costs, make every effort to offer these sessions during regular work hours. Schedule them early in the morning and start the OR schedule a little later. Or you may try to plan them toward the end of a shift on an anticipated slow day. If you require staying after hours or coming in on a Saturday to attend mandatory fire safety training, for instance, you'll find that they'll come in with a better attitude if you compensate their time.
While it's good for everyone to know there will be one in-service day per month, it's not wise to designate a certain day of the week you do the session. The reason: Late starts affect surgeons who have block times on those days. They're much less likely to fuss if you simply rotate the in-service weekday.
Identify useful topics
Your colleague at the facility up the street may tell you about a money-saving supply management session she conducted, but your short-term priority should be to re-emphasize an OR-safety issue, such as your electrosurgery protocols. The point here is this: Tailor in-services to your own facility needs.
Every facility must conduct periodic (quarterly, six-month or annual) training reviews in specific areas, such as OSHA standards, fire safety and code blue procedures. Beyond that, the session topics are up to you or a designated staff development coordinator. Encourage staff to suggest topics, too. Potential session topics include new capital equipment, customer service, updates to your policy and procedure manuals, or introducing a new specialty or procedure.
From time to time, however, you may elect to choose a hot topic that doesn't directly pertain to your facility but is sure to generate lively discussion - such as the growth in and risks of bariatric surgeries.
Find qualified presenters
You don't have to spend a lot of money to find good presenters for your in-services, even if the presenter is not a manager or designated clinical educator at your facility.
For example, most large medical manufacturers employ equipment representatives or clinical educators who present educational in-services at no cost to facilities. These can be scheduled weeks in advance, many offer approved CEU credits, and all the handouts and materials come pre-assembled.
Physicians may also make good presenters. Consider scheduling a doc who'll already be at your facility the same day as the in-service (for example, he has block time later that day). Most physicians are happy to share their knowledge with others, especially if you let them choose a topic of interest. It's a great way to teach staff about new techniques or ways to better perform procedures. You may want to invite the doc's office staff to attend. It's a good way to get to know his staff and foster stronger relations with your facility.
Along the same lines, you might want to approach the local hospital about getting some of its specialists - such as risk managers and infection control officers - to address your staff in their area of expertise.
Make the sessions fun
There are many ways you can liven the proceedings without breaking the budget. Hold a potluck breakfast before a morning session or create an ice cream bar for a late-day session. Give away door prizes. While you can't possibly account for all generational and personal taste differences, you can at least establish an atmosphere that encourages interaction, learning and communication. If you do it right, employees should have no difficulty staying awake. They might even learn something.