Background: In 2012, the ambulatory care services division developed the patient care services (PCS) education team. This clinical education team provided all clinical education face to face between clinical educator and learner. While the PCS education team matrix changed over time, the core methods of direct observation and return demonstration remained the sole determinants of learning in the student. In 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic, in-person learning became impossible. Historically, our patient care services educators in each of our four medical groups across two states operated independently of each other. This included having different clinical new-hire orientation programs and not all PCS educators maintained an annual skills program to support clinician (RN, LPN, and MA) continued education.
Objectives: Transition new-hire clinical orientation to a virtual platform while maintaining effective learning utilizing multiple modalities of student engagement.
Standardize new-hire clinical orientation and an annual skills program across all regions.
Methods: The PCS educators worked to evaluate current programs to identify core objectives and determine changes needed for creating a standard program and adapting to the new virtual delivery method. The virtual clinical new-hire orientation program includes multiple delivery methods to meet unique learner needs such as core content presentations, case studies, group discussions, verbal feedback, teachback in the form of a medication safety Jeopardy® game, and guided self-directed learning.
Results: Transitioning to a virtual platform for the clinical new=hire orientation and annual skills programs across all medical groups has allowed the patient care services educators to work together to support a larger number of new hires, as hiring moved from bi-weekly to weekly due to the pandemic’s effect on staffing in the practices. In collaboration with practice leadership and clinical preceptors, mid-year 2020, 41.18% of participants reported “strongly agreed” that the virtual clinical new-hire orientation program prepared them for their new role as an ambulatory care clinician. This is compared to 42.86% in 2018. The standardized virtual clinical new-hire orientation program facilitated inviting those is non-tradition clinical roles to participate. Having these non-traditional clinical roles trained to perform duties within the practice allowed for continued safe patient care during the pandemic when staffing shortages were the most prevalent.
Conclusion: Creating a standardized program and moving to a virtual platform facilitated the ability to continue to support the onboarding of new hire and transfers into the role of ambulatory care clinicians. PCS educators committed to sharing the responsibility of providing virtual clinical new-hire orientation each week for ambulatory care new hires across all regions. This new program helped to address staffing shortages in a small way while also maintaining high-level learning.