Soft Skills for Hard Results: Training EHR Trainers to…Train!

A casual observation of many EHR trainers reveals an unsettling truth: they’re not great classroom trainers. While most possess adequate subject-matter expertise in their given Epic application, their ability to engage learners and facilitate knowledge transfer in the classroom often falls short of what is needed to adequately prepare end users to make a seamless transition to the new system at Go Live.

Most Epic training departments within healthcare organizations spend too little if any time preparing trainers with the soft-skills needed to ensure success in the classroom, concentrating their energies instead on dealing with build issues, rewriting lesson plans and making sure their trainers know the curriculum. All important tasks to be sure, but the unintended consequence is a group of trainers often ill equipped to manage classroom dynamics, facilitate adult learning, or skillfully handle overwhelmed, confused and resistant end users.

The good news is that most of what trainers need to learn can be integrated into a train-the-trainer process that seamlessly complements their Epic training. We start by giving trainers well-written Epic lesson plans and making sure they understand their organization’s unique build and workflows, but we ultimately set them up for success by equipping them with 14 key soft-skill training competencies that differentiate average trainers from great trainers. Specifically, trainers need to know how to:

  1. build rapport, trust and credibility with end users.
  2. hook, engage and motivate learners during classroom sessions.
  3. deliver with impact and make effective use of nonverbal communication—tone, volume, body language, eye contact, gestures, volume, pacing—to keep learners tuned-in and engaged.
  4. optimize learner readiness by helping end users not only understand course objectives, but appreciate how they’ll personally benefit from the new system.
  5. read their audience and teach to all learning styles—auditory, visual, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal—to help end users comprehend, retrain and apply what is taught.
  6. use directional statements effectively to ensure all learners are rowing in the same direction and keeping pace with the instructor.
  7. develop strong in-classroom partnerships with Super Users, who play a vital role in helping latecomers get caught up and helping slower learners get back on track.
  8. use music, icebreakers and energizers appropriately to lighten the mood and create a positive classroom training environment.
  9. ask effective questions to check for understanding and involve learners.
  10. make sure the end user “got it.”
  11. handle questions from learners and use the “parking lot” effectively
  12. help participants navigate through, align with and support the change to Epic.
  13. give end users strategies for simultaneously managing patient care and the PC.
  14. handle difficult, frustrated and confused end users and manage resistance in the classroom to neutralize disruptions and enhance everyone’s learning experience.

The time spent preparing trainers how to train, and not just memorizing lesson plans and studying workflows, pays handsome dividends. Not only are end users better prepared, leading to smoother Go Live events with fewer speed bumps, but ultimately the patient experience is positively impacted, as clinicians and other Epic end users spend less time fumbling through the system and more time paying attention to patient care and safety.

Written by Danny Lewis, Senior Learning and Development Professional