Infection Control Today - Inside Central Strerile - Training NewEmployees

May 1, 2000

Training New Employees

Training New Employees
by Julie Stoller, CRCST

Central Service is a highly technical and specialized area of healthcare.Each employee must be knowledgeable in every aspect of the job. It is vital toeveryone (staff, patients, and visitors) that the employees in the CS departmentbe technically competent. Along with providing top-quality service, one mustremember the other skills in which the CS technician must be proficient:employee safety issues, human relations skills, and the universal code ofbehavior which is expected of all Central Service professionals. Training newemployees is a very complex task, which takes proper preparation,presentation/demonstration, practice, and follow-up. A well-planned trainingprogram should include instructional guidance in all the job responsibilities ofCentral Service, both technical and behavioral. So where would one start in thisprocess of developing a productive and efficient member of the CS staff? Thebest place is at the beginning.

The importance of new employee selection cannot be stated strongly enough.Proper hiring techniques can save the CS department time, which in turn savesthe healthcare facility money. Ideally, the person should have educationalcredentials (IAHCSMM, NICHSPDP) and/or work experience. The new employee musthave the ability to understand the importance of detailed, technicalinstructions, but there are other traits that are also important--a positiveattitude, enthusiasm about the job, and the willingness to learn. If the newstaff member has these characteristics but lacks some of the technical skills,there is a good chance the training will be successful. In retrospect, choosingthe right person for the position is the first step taken towards success orfailure in the training process.

Just as important to hiring new staff members is the selection of qualifiedtraining staff. All trainers/preceptors should have a common goal: to providethe new technician with all the information needed to do his/her job correctlyand to meet the high standards of the CS department continually. With propertraining techniques in place, the new employee will become proficient in theskills required to do a quality job and be a productive member of the CentralService team.

Whether it's the use of visual aides such as instructional tapes, servicemanuals, or closely supervised On the Job Training (OJT), you must have anorganized orientation program in place to ensure that all areas ofresponsibilities are covered and the desired level of training is accomplished.This process cannot be rushed; time and patience play such an important role.Remember, every person is an individual and will process informationdifferently. Every training program must have an agenda or job breakdown. Thisagenda is a list of all tasks that are performed in the department and will havea
written procedure for each.

An employee's first day should consist of being introduced to the healthcarefacility and to its policies and procedures. Most facilities have an orientationprogram set up for new staff members that should include some backgroundinformation of the facility and topics such as electrical/fire safety, emergencypreparedness, etc. Next, a tour of the hospital would be in order. Some areas ofimportance would be the special care units, ER, Intensive Care, and Cardiac CathLab. Once this tour has been completed, it is time to introduce the newtechnician to the CS department.

First days on the job can be very stressful. The quicker you can put the newemployee at ease and make them feel part of the team, the easier it will be toinitiate the learning process. A tour of the department should consist ofintroductions to the new employee's co-workers and lead staff and also thedifferent areas such as decontamination, instrumentation, and the nursing andsurgical materials support areas. Go over the departmental policies such as thedress code, attendance, and breaks. Give them a list of names from the PersonnelDepartment who could answer any specific questions they might have aboutinsurance benefits, savings plans, etc. Explain that the issue of employeesafety is the responsibility of every staff member, experienced and new.Stress-safe working habits, from the correct way of handling chemicals indecontam, to proper care and handling of surgical instruments, disposing sharps,and proper ergonomics, should be explained. The trainee should be introduced tothe Materials Safety Data Sheets and shown how to access this information incase the need arises. There isn't a better time than the present to startstressing the importance of following proper procedures and performing all taskscorrectly. Explain not only how to do a specific task but also the importance ofwhy it is done a particular way.

Throughout the instructional period of the training program, encourage thenew technician to ask questions and to take notes. Explain quality and quantitywork standards in each area of the department. Set attainable goals for thetrainee to meet. This will give the new tech a sense of accomplishment andpride.

Each individual area in the department should have skills validation sheetswith information pertinent to its specific functions. By documenting theprogress of the new technician, the preceptor will find it easier to follow thelevel of competence being achieved, and this will indicate where more directionshould be given.

It is advantageous to have one preceptor responsible for training in onespecific area for the sake of continuity. Uniform instruction ensures the properway of doing a task and also keeps the anxiety level down to a minimum for thetrainee, which in turn aides the learning process. How does anyone master atask? By doing it. Once instruction has been given and the new employee has beengiven the opportunity to do a specific task, allow him/her to perform the taskat hand without constant supervision. Trust that if they have any questions,they will ask. This does not mean let them "sink or swim." Mistakeswill happen. When making corrections, remember always to give encouragement andapply positive reinforcement. Patience is very important for both trainee andtrainer. Be respectful of one another and show interest in any concerns orquestions the new employee might have.

Along with technical instruction, there is the issue of introducing the newtech to the professional code of behavior (moral, legal, and ethical) that isexpected from all healthcare employees. Explain to him/her that this is aresponsibility that automatically came along with becoming a member of theCentral Service team. They are morally and legally bound to do their jobscorrectly without taking any shortcuts and always following proper procedures.Stress security aspects of the job such as patient confidentiality. They have anethical responsibility to respect the privacy of patients. The bottom line isthe patients have entrusted the employees that work in CS with their care.

This would also be a good time to cover the importance of practicingeffective human relation skills, which are critical for providing qualitycustomer service. They must communicate clearly and effectively and be courteousand helpful. Explain to the trainee that as a CS employee, they are part of ateam. The CS department depends on the performance and contribution of eachemployee. How each member interacts with the other will be a determining factorin having a productive or non-productive working relationship with each other.

Central Service is one of the most important departments in the hospital. Infact, the name itself tells you that it is the center or hub of the facilitybecause of the many departments it services. The work is highly technical andcomplex. To become a qualified Central Service Technician, one needs extensivetraining involving all aspects of the department. CS employees must deal withpersonnel from all areas of the hospital. It is essential that they know andfollow the basic principles of human relation skills. Working in the CS fieldguarantees constant change all around. It is essential to have a successfultraining program in place to keep up with new technologies and to present thisinformation to experienced and new technicians alike. Be aware that there isn'ta CS technician that is ever really out of training. P

Julie Stoller, CRCST, is a CaseCart Technician at MeritCare Medical Center(Fargo, North Dakota). She is a graduate of Northwest Technical College(Moorhead, Minn).


1 Central Service Management Manual. IAHCSM.
2 Supervision Principles: Leadership Strategies for HealthcareFacilitiesFor a complete list of references click here