1. Hendrickson, Thomas MSN, RN, CNOR

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Electronic staff education has resolved the problem with providing all perioperative staff with weekly education. Providing quality, up-to-date, informative, and mandatory staff development sessions weekly can be a challenge. As the educator responsible for staff development, I often struggle with methods to provide up-to-date sessions that include all staff members in a timely manner and maintain cost efficiency. Technology has resolved that problem.


Traditional methods of providing education to all staff members fail for a number of reasons. Staff development is scheduled every Wednesday from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. The operating room (OR) schedule, which normally begins at 7:30 a.m., has a later start at 8:30 a.m., allowing for 1-hour education sessions. However, every staff member is not able to attend. Recently, I reviewed the availability of staff to attend this weekly education, and I was surprised by the results. Over a 6-month period, 40% of the staff did not attend the Wednesday morning education. Further examination revealed the causes: changes in staff assignments, vacation, sick days, seminars, conflicting interdisciplinary meetings, and staff working shifts that start after 7 a.m. Attempting to present educational programs to staff reporting to work other than 7:00 a.m. had been difficult because they urgently need to start in a room or relieve the day shift. Staggered shifts are implemented to have staff members report to work when they are most needed. Attempting to have them attend an education session is almost impossible. Having them come in early and pay them overtime is not cost effective. Some staff members work 10- or 12-hour shifts, and finding a time for them to attend a traditional education session is not easy. Having the educator come back at 10:00 p.m. is not an efficient use of time and often makes the educator a bit grumpy the next morning, and nobody likes a grumpy educator. Staff members on vacation or who are ill or attending outside meetings all add to the difficulty of scheduling education.


Electronic education has resolved those issues. Those who attend the traditional weekly staff development sessions held at 7:00 a.m. receive the "live" version. With electronic staff education, by 12 noon the same day, the staff has access to the same staff development session electronically. The program is recreated using digital photos, a scanner, and PowerPoint.


When the OR at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Rahway went live with an electronic documentation system last year, a computer station was placed in every room in the OR and multiple computers within the department.


This avenue opened the way for electronic staff education to take place. Each computer, in addition to the documentation software, has Microsoft PowerPoint software, and every staff member has access to it. The use of a scanner along with a digital camera allows photos and graphics to be downloaded into the educational programs. The information technology department placed an education folder icon on the start-up window. Staff members simply click on the education folder icon and gain access to all the education sessions that are available. The staff finds the new format helpful and insightful with a personal touch added because it is not a generic presentation but it is "our" hospital, "our" supplies, and "our" equipment that are included in the program. Staff members are able to view these presentations at their convenience, on their assigned day to work. Also included are helpful tips on how to assemble seldom-used equipment or how to mix intricate medications. Another benefit is that staff can review previously learned skills that have not been used in considerable time. When the OR team is called in for an emergency on weekends or in the middle of the night and they need a refresher on how to assemble a piece of equipment, they can access the information with photos in the room they are working in with a few clicks of the mouse and strokes on the keyboard.


Recently, it was discovered that the OR staff was having problems identifying the correct type of eyewear to use with what type of laser. The OR has seven different lasers, with more than 15 types of eyewear protection. Matching the eyewear protection to the correct laser is an important safety concern. Now, the staff can review the electronic education and match the picture of the eyewear to the specific laser with which it should be used.


Often, humor is interjected into the presentation using cartoon clip art, to make the presentations interesting and engaging. Clip art is downloaded off the Web, and digital pictures are used.


Electronic education is cost effective, easily prepared, and meets the needs of all the perioperative staff at their convenience. Revisions can be made to programs quickly so they remain up-to-date. Cutting edge technology now integrates cutting edge education.