One of the areas of major concern for many practices is employee training. Unfortunately, few practices have taken the time to develop formal training programs or even designate someone in the role of “trainer.” The responsibility of training new employees usually falls on the manager and the existing staff members. This can lead to frustration for them as well as for new staff members. It also prevents new employees from learning the job sufficiently to perform their tasks correctly. Turnover in medical offices tends to be very high, but much of it is preventable by starting employees out correctly in the first place.

Key components for training
There are several components necessary for training a new employee. First, the employee should understand the practice as a whole. This can be accomplished by developing an employee orientation manual, which provides an overview of the practice through the mission statement, the credentials of the practice and providers, the services it provides, and a description of all of the positions in the practice. Secondly, provide new employees with a clear and concise job description. This way, they can understand the essential skills necessary for their position, their reporting structure, and the tasks for which they are responsible. The next key piece is a policy and procedure manual, which includes vacation time, sick leave, work hours, job performance reviews, etc.

The final and arguably the most important part of the training process is to provide a checklist and training outline for new employees. It is possible to create a checklist for all the positions in the practice, providing employees and their supervisors with a “roadmap” for the training process. To aid the office manager, designating a current employee as the mentor or trainer for the new hire is recommended. The trainer can work in concert with the office manager to complete the checklist. In addition to making the training process more efficient, involving an employee trainer/mentor increases that person's job satisfaction level because of the additional responsibility and ownership in the process.

A new employee checklist and training outline is relatively easy to create and ensures the completion of every aspect of training. It can be broken down in specific areas that are dated and initialed upon completion. A comprehensive checklist should include the following:

Job requirements and forms. This area includes reviewing the job description, providing a signed employment application, and completing any necessary human resource forms, such as a personal employee data sheet, tax and direct deposit forms, review of the benefits package, etc.

Salary. This area includes a review and confirmation of salary, overtime policies, and employee performance evaluations. The employee evaluation discussion should include expectations, timing, and forms commonly used.

Work hours. This area defines work hours, including overtime, breaks and lunch hours, and vacation time, sick time, and leave of absence.

Policies and procedures. A review of and signed receipt of the practice policy and procedure manual is a must. This is also the appropriate time to review practice and industry safety regulations, as well as patient privacy standards and HIPAA. It is important to ensure that a new employee understands overtime policies, performance evaluations, time off, and safety and HIPAA regulations. The policy and procedure manual should spell out most of these items, but it is important to make sure that the new employee actually reviews and understands them.

Employee workstation and information systems. The final components of the checklist and outline should pertain directly to the specific job. This is an area where a dedicated trainer could be a great resource to the manager. This includes setting up the employee's workstation and information systems, ordering name tags or business cards (if appropriate), as well as setting up e-mail, pager, and voicemail.

Employee orientation schedule. The employee orientation schedule helps walk the new employee through the practice. This section includes review of the employee orientation manual, introductions to the providers and staff, a detailed tour of the facility, training on the phone system and other office machinery, training on safety and privacy policies, access to supplies, and other key specifics around the job. This portion of the checklist/outline should take up the majority of the training time and will vary by job function and by practice. Once the new employee has completed all the items on the checklist, the supervisor can sign and date the document.

Additional training. This area should involve the manager and the dedicated trainer and should be specific to the job/position. It should include items such as online training modules, task training for the specific job, and shadowing the trainer and employees in other overlapping jobs.

Useful Tool
Using a new employee checklist and training outline can help ensure that a new employee is better acclimated to your practice. It is a useful tool that provides the supervisor and the staff an understanding of who is responsible for different aspects of the training process and when they are complete. By incorporating it with new employees, there will be less frustration, lower turnover and greater performance.