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In an on-demand healthcare environment, staff balance friendly customer service, speed, and quality care. Your employees are the heart of your clinic, and make the difference between an average patient experience—and a great one.

From proper hiring to thorough training, managing all roles requires time investment by owners and management. Each staff member fills a meaningful role, and in urgent care, often several roles. Here are a few tips from insider training experts who’ve seen what works in educating urgent care personnel.

Tip 1: Assign someone to manage training and create a training plan

If training is going to succeed, someone needs to be in charge of it. Assign someone to head up training. And create an outlined training program. For new urgent cares, your checklist will include human resource needs, HIPAA and OSHA regulations, and technology and facility logistics. Start-up urgent cares should set out guidelines on how to address and greet patients, workflows based on scenarios, and policies to ensure consistent patient treatment.

Existing clinics should focus on an orientation plan (tip 4). Make training a priority by dedicating time and effort—along with resources of people and a plan. While an upfront cost, standardized training pays dividends in the daily running of the clinic. It also helps with the smoothness and safety of the patient experience, and makes a more satisfying work environment for employees.

Tip 2: Train based on role (but cross-train too)

Training should be broken out by role, so each staff member can focus on their daily tasks. This should include both physical workflow steps, and also any other assigned duties—such as EMR entry, relaying of information, and lab or triage requirements.

Use fake patientscenarios to train employees, especially if you’re a start-up clinic. While the urgency of real life cannot be duplicated, the repetition of facing various scenarios can help prepare staff on how to handle real patients when the clinic doors open. Hands-on practice with staff playing the role of fake patients, along with a paired, experienced mentor, can vastly improve new employee training as well.

Cross-training roles is also valuable. You don’t need to fully cross-train employees unless they will actually be doing other duties, but a general knowledge of what all the other roles in the clinic do will help each role know the cause and effect of their actions. Cross-training, especially for new employees, can help give them a bird’s eye view of daily operations.

Tip 3: Hire deliberately for every role

Pitfalls with training can start in the hiring process. Urgent cares need to hire deliberately for every role. A common mistake is focusing hiring efforts on nurses and providers, while giving less thought and consideration to front desk and billing staff. While good clinicians are vitally needed, so are front desk personnel and billers, especially if your clinic cares about revenue.

In urgent care, customer service is as important as treatment—so hiring qualified, insurance-knowledgeable front desk staff will help improve the entire patient and billing process. Don’t think of front desk personnel as simply data entry people. They are the first impression of your clinic and are a big part of the health of your reimbursement.

Many urgent cares hire clinicians who’ve been in emergency care or family practice settings. Urgent care is uniquely different from both, being less stressful than the ER, but faster pace than a doctor’s office. Urgent care also often requires individuals to fill multiple roles, creating task diversity. Having clinicians with excellent “bedside manners” that can handle varying situations comfortably is ideal for the urgent care environment.

Tip 4:  Have orientation to onboard new staff

After your clinic is open, it’s important to create an orientation program for onboarding new staff. Orientation ensures that all staff hold up the standard of care you expect in your clinic. Implement orientation in a way that makes the most sense for your new staff members. You can do group classes for new hires or onboard each new hire individually—depending on your hiring practices.

Orientation should begin before the staff member even starts working. Get new employees familiar with policies and workflow before they start. Assign education needs (logistics, software, etc.) for your clinic, along with human resource requirements, to begin the learning process right away.

Checklists for workflow steps help new staff get acclimated. Add a mentor to shadow new staff to ensure accurate practicing and to improve retention—then let staff practice on their own. Have a time frame to test new employees’ comprehension of standards, and offer positive reinforcement for efforts.

Have your own training tips for urgent care staff? Share with us. And then carry on to Part 2 of this article.