“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today” ……………Malcolm X
HQAA and other accrediting bodies all have standards that address ongoing staff education. The concept of regular staff education through in-service programs and other staff development methodology is found throughout many other standards as well including compliance, staff competence, and leadership. All of this is for good reason: our industry is a dynamic one and the technology, the equipment, and the law & regulation all change at breakneck speed.
HR 5, the “Annual Education Program” standard addresses a general requirement by all organizations to provide annual education at no charge to staff. Regardless of job duties, all staff must obtain a minimum of six hours of in-service education to include the following topics:
- Infection Control and Blood-borne Pathogens
- OSHA/Safety Issues (Fire Safety, Disaster Preparedness, etc.)
- HIPAA and Privacy Practices
- Any New Products
Besides HR 5, ORG 5 has an education component to it. ORG 5 discusses a company’s compliance program. One of the so-called seven elements is “regular education on compliance issues.” This can be done as part of the HR 5 requirement; typically, an organization will conduct an annual in-service on the subject. The annual in-service outlines and reviews the organization’s compliance plan and program and should discuss staff member’s roles in ensuring compliance.
Additionally, licensed personnel have requirements for ongoing education as part of their professional license. Respiratory therapists, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, nurses, and assistive technology professionals all have requirements. To further complicate matters, individual states have different requirements for continuing education for their licensees. Be sure to be aware of these state requirements in your state and in any state where your staff does business.
Documentation of staff in-services should include the date, a general description of what was covered, and some form of sign in sheets that document each staff member’s attendance at the in-service. These records can be retained in the individual staff member’s personnel file or in a master education file that has all staff attendance documented along with the plan for the upcoming year. Your organization can use staff to facilitate these programs. For instance, the company’s compliance officer is the obvious choice to conduct annual training on compliance. The RT can demonstrate new respiratory products. When appropriate, bring in outside persons to conduct in-services. Equipment manufacturer representatives are usually happy to come in and provide training on their product, how it is billed, and how to market it in the community. Referral sources might also be willing and even eager to come in and talk to your staff. This provides not only educational opportunities, but also helps solidify your relationship with a referral.
Finally, think outside the box with regards to your in-service programs. Think about learning needs, and areas that could use improvement within your organization and find in-service programs that help in these areas. Programs on the psychology of selling, effective customer service, and even death and dying might be just what staff needs to make them better at their jobs. Hospice chaplains and directors have programs on death, dying, and grieving that may be useful to your staff. These short in-service programs may help staff understand and empathize with customer/patients, particularly if you provide services to a significant number of hospice patients.
Ben Franklin famously said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” and that axiom is as true today as it was 250 years ago. Any education you provide your staff will help them improve as employees and help them do a better job for your organization and ultimately for your customer/patients.