As any teacher knows, finding a way to present the same information every year, especially to people who’ve already heard it, is challenging. But at Grays Harbor Community Hospital, the Education Department considers it more like a dare. “We provide mandatory trainings twice a year and we have to find a way to make things interesting,” says Director of Education Dori Unterseher MN, RN. “We have to hook people.”
For this year’s staff training in October, the theme was ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ and every booth included a variation on that theme. “We’re responsible for organizing and facilitating the entire thing,” says Unterseher. Vendors from other departments provided information on topics like fire safety and other regulatory requirements, while Emergency Room staff operated a booth that demonstrated how to use restraints. “The people who come to help us teach in the booths are phenomenal,” she says. In three days, 685 people went through more than a dozen booths.
Teaching comes naturally to Unterseher, who has been at GHCH since 1992, working previously as Director of Emergency and Critical Care. After getting her Master’s degree in nursing from the University of Washington Tacoma in 2007, she transitioned into the Education Department. “I was fortunate when the position became available,” she says. “I’ve always found a way to teach in whatever job I had.”
The Education Department provides a wide range of services to both the hospital staff and emergency services personnel throughout the county. With just four full-time employees, including Unterseher, educator Rebekah Ostrander (MSN, RN), educator Jacci O’Neill (MSN, RN) and administrative secretary Angel Tracy, the department often collaborates with other departments to create large events like the staff training or annual spring skills fair.
All clinical employees are required to have Basic Life Support (BLS) training, a certification that lasts for two years. The department offers BLS as well as Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) throughout the year. “Other employees in clerical areas also take it, depending on what’s needed,” says Unterseher. “ACLS is required in the emergency and critical care units, and PALS is also required in the ER.”
All Emergency Management Services (EMS) personnel within the community and providers throughout the Harbor Medical Group also have the opportunity to take the classes. The Education Department successfully earned recertification as a Training Center from the American Heart Association to provide BLS, ACLS and PALS to GHCH employees, GHCH medical providers, and to EMS employees.
While the information covered through such courses usually remains consistent, larger events can be an opportunity to introduce new technology and practice working with it. “This year at the annual training we created a movie theater booth where all staff watched a video on Med Sleds, which are sort of like toboggans that get used when someone is unable to walk in the event of a fire or other disaster,” says Unterseher. “The Med Sled has a safety strap at the top. You hook it with a carabiner attached to the wall and the patient is lowered down safely,” she says.
In the spring, the focus is on clinical skills related to patient care that nurses need to know. “One example is a gait belt,” says Unterseher. “We use gait belts to assist patients and make sure they don’t fall. At the clinical skills fair everyone had to demonstrate that they know how to use them.”
Aside from internal staff who share their expertise on specific topics, representatives from universities also man booths at the fairs, providing information about how the staff can continue their education. “We have contracts with Western Governors University and Grand Canyon University that give our employees an additional 5% off of their tuition if they want to go further,” says Unterseher. “They usually send reps to our events.”
The department also offers an online Learning Management System purchased through Swank Health Care called MyE2Go which offers over 800 courses on a variety of professions and topics. “We create many of our own courses, too,” she says. “We give Angel the information and she builds the courses using our software program, Lectora. She has been selected for four
consecutive years as a presenter at the Lectora International Conference where she teaches using actual examples of on-line education she has developed for use here at GHCH.” In the past year Education offered nine courses related to safety topics such as the safe handling and storage of compressed gas, five that came from Swank and four that Tracy developed herself.
Topics are not limited to clinical subjects. Hospital directors can request trainings on subjects like bullying or teamwork, says Unterseher. “We’ll provide education on anything. Any director can call and say, ‘What do you have on this? Can you come and do something?’”
During the first 11 months of 2016, the Education Department facilitated 12,022 education hours consumed by employees. Of those hours, 9,380 education hours were provided by the Education Department and 2,516 education hours were taken from our online Learning Management System which is managed by the department.
Staff members appreciate the effort to not only provide such a wide array of topics but to continually make what could become routine information, interesting. “We get a lot of compliments,” she says. “We hear things like, ‘I love coming to your classes. You take everyday things and make them fun so I can learn.’ I’m really proud of the amount of education that we offer to our staff and the quality of the education we offer.”
For more information about Grays Harbor Community Hospital, visit www.ghcares.org or call (360)532-8330.