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HR Topic - Training and development for medical professionals

Post date: 23/05/2024 | Time to read article: 6 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 23/05/2024

A well-considered training and development program is an effective way to help your team members. Not only in their professional careers, but can help improve your practice's employee retention, attract new talent and make your practice stand out from your competitors.

In this article, Medical Protection partner Croner will look into what staff training is applicable for qualified medical professions, the benefits of continuous development and how you can implement it into your practice.

If you need advice on how you can better help your team get in touch with one of Croner’s partnership team on 0844 561 8133.

What is staff training?

When we start to look at staff training there are a few different areas that you could look at. These range from developing technical skills to understanding new services that your practice offers. There are many ways to categorise the types of training, but most fall into the following categories:

  • Onboarding – the introduction of a new employee into your practice. This includes defining employee objectives and goals, introducing staff to key practice stakeholders (practice owner, GP partner) and providing employees with a H&S tour of the site.

  • Technical skills – Within the medical profession, new employees will have already completed the necessary medical training to be qualified for the role. However, development of technical clinical skills is imperative to keep their skills and knowledge up to date, to ensure they practice safely and legally. Examples of technical skills may include; operating the practice’s patient management system, and using medical equipment such as an x-ray or blood pressure machine.

  • Soft skills – these are the skills that aren’t technically essential to the role but will help the employee be more efficient and effective. However, soft skills for medical professionals are arguably just as important as technical skills when it comes to patient care. Competencies such as empathy, communication, time management and positivity are vital to maintaining happy patients and a productive work environment.

  • Products and services - this is training that teaches staff about the product or service you are selling. Examples of this may be teaching pharmacists what products the pharmacy can offer.

  • Quality – This type of training helps evaluate the quality of service you are providing to patients. Internal quality training can help to give insights as to the types of data that will be collected by practice surveys such as the NHS GPPS and CQC’s GP Insights report.

  • Safety – Important for all businesses, safety training keeps your employees and patients safe within the practice setting. Can include manual handling, first aid (for non medical professional roles such as receptionists), PPE, and operating medical equipment safely.

  • Team & diversity – To ensure bias doesn’t harm your workforce, it’s important to train staff on how to work respectfully with and around others from different backgrounds. This can be worked into team training, to build stronger teams and a more diverse workforce.

What is development training?

Employee development within a practice is a more long-term process of providing training to staff. Development refers to building on existing competency and skills. Section 18 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 states that staff must receive the support, training, professional development, supervision and appraisals that are necessary for them to carry out their role and responsibilities. The NHS promises its employees at least one annual CPD (continuous personal development) meeting with their manager. This gives employees the opportunity to identify gaps in their knowledge, making it easier to progress through the NHS pay bands and potentially earn more money. CPD could be via a formal development program or by simply providing employees with continuous learning opportunities.

There is also a commercial consideration. When done correctly, development can pay off in the long run with improved productivity and output. As an example; dismissing an employee due to patient etiquette, and recruiting a new one can be a costly process. Developing that same employee to improve their soft skills will also come with potentially costs. Although it may take longer, a well-executed development strategy could lead to longer employee retention. In an industry where staffing shortages are still an ongoing issue, retaining existing staff is imperative for practices.

What are the benefits of employee training and development?

Training and development programs are effective on many levels. Your employees and wider organisational performance can all benefit. These benefits include:

  • Improve employee performance - Continuously training employees can help you to retain a competitive advantage by providing an enhanced service to your patients. Patient feedback is reviewed by the CQC as part of their GP insights survey, so it’s important that staff are continuously encouraged to provide the best service possible.
  • Employees can handle challenges more effectively - The ability to deal with change is vital in most businesses. Change can be challenging but if handled properly it can also bring opportunities. Take, for example, digitisation. Many training and development programs focus heavily on technical training to perform specific tasks, either online or on a computer. The biggest benefit to having these educational activities in your practice is ensuring that your staff are better equipped to meet the challenges of the modern business landscape. This may include training staff to use a new prescription system or transitioning from an NHS to a private practice.
  • Consistent training and a learning culture to attract talent - Advertising training and development programs as part of a job role allow prospective staff to see that your practice values talent and development. This is another way to continue combatting ongoing recruitment challenges within the industry. Likewise, job satisfaction amongst your current team is key to motivation. If you want low practitioner turnover, then training and development is essential. There are many ways to deliver consistent training, ranging from on-the-job training to e-learning. The NHS has a dedicated E-Learning for Healthcare portal which has over 200 courses for healthcare workers, this is a great was to encourage staff to work on CPD.

How to train staff

First, you need to consider whether you will conduct training in-house or use an external provider. There are benefits and drawbacks to both. Consider whether you have the time to spare to do the training yourself. Also, ask the question: “Do I have the knowledge needed to conduct this training?”. Depending on the training, you may need a qualification to conduct it. In this scenario, you should seek out a trained professional. Croner offers a variety of HR training programmes and health & safety training courses. If you need further information on any of these sessions. Whether you go in-house or externally, it’s important to assess how effective the training is. Here are some key tips for making your staff training effective:

  • Keep sessions one-on-one, or in small groups – this will encourage the employee to ask questions and make the training personal to them. It also means you can tailor sessions to the individual and their role.
  • Make it interactive – Staring at a screen for hours on end is a great way for some people to learn, but not all. You don’t have to go far to make a training course more engaging, just make sure the walls of text are broken up every now and then, at least.
  • Give responsibility – Most lessons are learned through doing. Give the employee the opportunity to get hands-on and demonstrate what they’ve learned. In some sessions, such as manual handling, that'll be easy. For other courses, you’ll have to get creative.
  • Continue to enable development – Don’t host one training session and then never revisit the topic again. Training should be built on and refreshed. This goes hand in hand with giving responsibility. Offer further training in six months’ time or provide additional courses as an incentive.

In conclusion

Training and development can often be overlooked within practices. However, it’s understandable that many practice managers may assume that their employee’s training ends when they join the practice. By encouraging medical professionals to invest in CPD and by implementing robust training, practices can see improvements in their patient care and staff retention rates.

As a member of Medical Protection, you can access complimentary telephone advice from Croner. Croner can support practices with any HR, H&S or commercial legal queries. Contact one of Croner’s expert advisors on 0844 561 8133 and quote your association reference number.


Case Studies:

Croner have created some case studies based on real calls received from our members. All personal details have been removed to retain anonymity. If the following examples sound like a situation you are facing, do not hesitate to contact Croner for support on 0844 561 8133.

Situation 1

‘How are we best to proceed if we have some new staff members that we’d like to dismiss? They’ve only been with us for a few weeks, but we’ve already had several behaviour issues’

Croner’s Advice:

In this situation, there is alleviated risk due to the employees not having at least two years service with the business. Employers are not required to defend the reasonableness or procedural fairness of their decision in order to lawfully terminate an employee who has not accrued statutory protection against unfair dismissal. However, each dismissal situation is individual and would come with their own inherent risks. We highly recommend you have a robust dismissal procedure in place to define expectations for employees.

Situation 2

‘We’re looking to hire a cleaner to work evenings. They will be the only person in the practice during their working hours. We’ve never had anyone inside the practice outside of normal opening hours, is there anything we need to consider?’

Croner’s Advice:

Before allowing someone to work on their own, as an employer, you must handle any hazards to their health and safety. Without direct supervision or support in the event of an emergency, lone workers will always be at a higher risk. The following considerations can help employers develop a policy to safeguard their lone workers:

  • Who is made aware when the employee arrives and leaves site?
  • Is there a method for the employee to call for assistance and a sufficient and trustworthy means of communication?
  • Can you utilise a lone worker device such as GPS tracking or a body cam?
  • What regular check ins have been made with the lone worker, and what would happen if contact cannot be established?

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