Orientation and Training Best Practices

Five Tips to Get Your Program Started Off Right

By: Lynn Aguilera

As an experienced educator, Lynn Aguilera develops curriculum for new facilities, including department-specific and facility-wide education and training programs. She is an expert at Dress Rehearsal implementation, coordinating scenario development, and validation, and leading workgroups from logistics planning to event day(s). Lynn is an energetic and passionate Project Director and Senior Project Manager with over 25 years of industry experience. She truly loves her work which enables her to make even the driest content fun!

Below Lynn discusses the top five areas she considers when preparing for an Orientation and Training Program for a new building or space.

1. Focus on what is new and different: A new building or space is inherently filled with novel elements.

  • Start a list of those items that are significantly new or different as soon as possible. The list should include equipment, systems, paths of travels, connections, signage, service lines, etc.
  • Identify what needs to be communicated to the entire facility or to specific departments or groups, as well as the appropriate method of disseminating that information.

Key Point:  Keep in mind that staff may not know what is not changing, so be sure to emphasize anything that will remain the same such as food delivery or calling for a room clean (unless these are changing too!).

2. Determine Vendor Training Hours: Once you create your list of what is new and different, your next focus should be on determining if there are vendors allocated to provide the training.

  • For equipment and systems, work with the purchasing group to ensure training hours are included in the contracts.
  • If the equipment or system is new or complex, verify how many hours are in the contract that can be used to bring vendors onsite to conduct the training, support Dress Rehearsals, and be onsite for move day.

Key Point: These vendor training hours are typically used to train Champions who become experts on the equipment or system and in turn, train the rest of the staff. 

3. Create a team of Champions: These folks will receive extra training and orientation to the new space.

  • Champions will be used to help other team members acclimate to the new facility for the first few weeks post-go-live.
  • Champions will be the subject matter experts for their new departments, train end-users, support regulatory efforts, and ensure communication is consistent and accurate.

Key Point: When choosing champions, pick the people who are naturally enthusiastic and happy to be a part of the team.  Think of the team members who like to throw potlucks and birthday parties…. These are your natural champions!

4. Use scripting and checklists: One sure way to be certain that everyone receives the same message and information about the new building is by creating scripts and standardized checklists.

  • Scripts and checklists should include items that focus on Fire and Life Safety elements of the building, but also include paths of travel, on-stage/off-stage areas, elevator usage, hours of operations, and other key items that will facilitate the staff understanding their new space.
  • Scripts and checklists should also be used for Facility-wide orientation, department-specific orientation, and even room or space orientation.

Key Point:  Do not underestimate how long script development may take and ensure you have a QC team who will provide quick and accurate feedback.

5. Use hands-on training: Research supports that adult learners, and especially healthcare workers, learn best by hands-on learning in their new space.

  • Use simulation exercises to make the training more applicable to the staff person is a great way to enhance the hands-on experience.
  • If you are not able to train in the new space, your next best option may be to bring the equipment or system to a mock space or existing space and have staff practice with the new items there.

Key Point:  Hands-on training is a fantastic way to engage staff and get them to become familiar with anything new and different as early as possible before opening day.

Orientation and Training programs are a key factor in guaranteeing a smooth and safe transition into your new facility or space. Gaining support from executives and project sponsors early on is equally as important to ensure buy-in and success. Never underestimate the time it takes to plan a program as there are many details that need to be considered. Creating a workgroup dedicated to the process, with representatives from impacted departments will allow for a thorough understanding of the work required. If unsure of where to start, reach out to experts for guidance. We love what we do and are here to make sure your project is successful, and the staff feels empowered. Give us a call!