Imagine a straight horizontal line.
This represents the current performance of your newest employee. Now imagine that they get credits from standard continuing education classes. The line will continue mostly unchanged.
On the other hand, if you provide this person with substantive training, at first the line might dip down, showing reduced performance, and then angle up and surpass the height of the previous line. This is normal when practicing new skill development and is the result of true training.
This is an illustration of an employee’s performance when new knowledge is gained and they are well trained. In standard continuing education, your employees may not be learning much more than the latest regulations. This is not true training, but rather the mere acquiring of information. Yes, they get credits, but do they come back to the practice with new skills that benefit your patients?
This doesn’t mean there is no value in continuing education. But the value is in what they can take away and use, and is the difference between informing and training. Pay attention to the classes you send them to take and be active in the progress you want them to make.
Are you a one-class wonder?
The number of continuing education credits required for any medical professional is significant—and for good reason: Between insurance claims, provider constraints, and healthcare industry regulations, there is a tremendous amount information to be retained by your employees. Every role must be up to speed and yet many doctors think taking one class is all that is needed.
The challenge can be tricky: A practice needs a team to properly manage patient flow. If two or three team members get sent to a class, angry patients may result. If you don’t manage staffing changes well, one person being out at a class can seem like a crisis.
It’s this feeling that tempts doctors and office managers to approve only the essential classes for which employees receive credits. Enter standard continuing education.
Most of these courses teach the bare minimum and are often not focused on a skill-building curriculum. Often offered annually at conferences, these sessions are typically dry presentations made to look like regulatory-based classes.
If you can only afford to have each person out for a short period of time, it will be natural to hope that this one class will change their behavior and improve their skills. But a CA who only gets to take one class may miss learning how to put that information into practice.
As a result, they don’t understand the soft skills required to deal with the patient who continually asks for favors as their payments lapse past due. They may know how to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on a chart, but not know how to grow your practice. Don’t expect a one-class wonder; give employees all the training they need to improve instead.
Do you follow up after?
Once you or the employees have selected a class, and they take it, you’ll want to follow up afterward. It’s understandable if, at first, you find this to be unnatural. After all, when children come home after school, they are asked, “What did you learn today?” And the usual response is, “Nothing.”
Well, when it comes to those you lead, the need to ask is different. Adult learning doesn’t happen instantaneously, particularly when adults are faced with a large amount of information to consume. So follow up with your employees afterward and ask key questions.
Even in the light of your busy practice, employee sent to class need to know someone will be curious about what they learned. Following up can also reinforce why they went. The more you ask, the more they need to repeat and reflect. The more they reflect, the more they remember. The more they remember, the more your patience and practice will benefit.
Are you just résumé-building?
When running a small or midsized practice, it’s tempting to focus only on the certification that comes from designated continuing education.
Admittedly, if these courses are all you can do, there is a benefit in having done something to improve the way your staff runs the practice.
Still, at times office managers and DCs focus not on the skill-building aspect of education, but are simply ensuring that “all employees are certified,” like a task they can check off. As with any other working environment, it’s not about what their résumé says they know, but rather what they do with the information they’ve acquired.
Avoid the temptation to simply have the most-certified staff and instead invest significant time, effort, and energy into developing the most highly skilled, well-trained, and cohesive team on the planet.
The quote “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country” applies to your practice. Ask not what your employees can do for you in the form of standard continuing education classes, but what you can do for your employees by choosing the right classes that build the most appropriate and needed skills. And then follow up with them afterward, ensuring your employees are continuing to gain new tools
Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership development coach, consultant, and professional speaker. As cEo of training firm, contagious companies, inc., she and her team work with chiropractic practices, healthcare, retail, hospitality and government industry leaders to develop their leadership skills. She can be contacted at 866-382-0121, or through contagiouscompanies.com.