5 Critical Skills to Look for in EHR Trainers

Your organization has just spent millions on selecting, building out and testing your new EHR system. But your return on this massive investment relies in large part on the end users and their familiarity and comfort with the system. That's why there are trainers.

Attending training is normally the first exposure to the new system for 80% of the organization. Therefore, successful training delivery—led by knowledgeable trainers—is critical for preparing your staff to adopt all the functions, features and workflows associated with the new system.

As you build a training team, know that some of your best trainers may already work in your hospital. While they may not have formal training experience, they will have intimate knowledge of the EHR (they may have even participated in the build as a subject matter expert), and are likely intuitive educators who simply need some guidance and experience to take on training roles.

You will need to supplement internal hires with outside training professionals in full-time and consulting roles. These are individuals with numerous EHR training projects to their credit and references that can confirm the quality of their past work.

In prior roles where I have lead training delivery, I have interviewed a lot of trainers. A resume doesn't always tell the whole story, so for me, the interview is where I think trainers separate themselves and can demonstrate the attributes that will make them successful. Below are 5 skills I look for when I am screening and hiring trainers.

Classroom management skills

They will encounter every type of learner, ones who are engaged, and those who don’t want be there or challenge everything they say. The trainer must be able keep control of the class and ensure good student behavior. To probe on these skills, ask the following:  Tell me about a time when you overcame disruptive behavior from a Provider or Nurse in your training class?

Verbal and non-verbal communications skills

They need to effectively speak with all levels of staff. Good communications skills go beyond words, so I pay careful attention to someone's tone and volume. Observe their body language, do they appear confident in their posture and facial expressions? Will they hold the attention of students who just finished an 8 hour shift? Will the students be able to easily understand the trainer?

Passion for teaching

Teaching is one of the careers where people often say “they love what they do”. The same is true of Healthcare workers. If the trainer is enthusiastic with an upbeat mood, the students will respond to their enthusiasm and joy of teaching. Interview question example: Share an experience in which you used new training skills, ideas, or a new method to adapt or improve a training situation?

Application knowledge

Trainers should have a strong grasp of the application, in part, because when teaching the new system, not all features may be functioning as expected. Often, users are training on a system that is still in testing. This shouldn't fluster a quality trainer. The best trainers adapt the lesson plan on the spot and can explain how the application will work once it is live in contrast to any anomalies or bugs that users may experience in the classroom.

Teach by asking

In my experience, the best trainers ask questions and pause to allow the students who are thinkers the time to form their answers and respond. The right questions should engage learners and help them retain knowledge.

If you want to see all of the skills above in action, you can ask candidates to conduct a teaching demonstration. This will increase your interview time and requires some planning. You will need to have a classroom environment set up and should provide the candidate with a topic and time allotment in advance.

Vicki Davis is Healthcare IT Leaders VP, EHR Activation and Training. She has led large-scale training and delivery teams at Providence Health and Systems and Stanford Health and has overseen classroom-based and online learning programs for tens of thousands of end-users over the past decade.