The education department serves patients by providing the highest quality training to new clinical employees, enabling them to provide safe, quality dialysis to patients. “I am grateful to work with a group of dedicated, approachable, intelligent and downright pleasant women every day. This team works together to support each other and support the Mission of CDC,” says Liz Green, Director of Education. We asked Liz to elaborate on the education department’s role at CDC, how they’ve adapted to COVID-19 and how they go above and beyond for CDC staff and patients.

Q&A with the Education Department

What services does the education department provide to CDC patients?

The education department works in a support role at CDC. We serve our patients by providing the highest quality training to our new clinical employees, enabling them to provide safe, quality dialysis to patients. The dialysis technician training program exceeds the requirements of the OBN, and allows us to provide patients highly educated and trained staff at their chairside. We stress professionalism and customer service so that patients have a pleasant and comfortable experience surrounded by caregivers with a friendly bedside manner.

Can you describe the training provided to staff?

New staff, without previous dialysis experience, complete a twelve-week training program, providing both classroom training and clinical training. We try to keep the classes fun with hands-on activities, games and videos. A skilled group of ACTs provide clinical training to new employees in the facility, and we have one educator that devotes her time to ensuring the clinical success of the students at their facility. Students are invited to weekly study sessions to help them prepare for tests. When it is time to prepare for certification, the department offers assistance with the application process and a review class to help students better prepare. The passing rate for our employees on the national exam is very high. All 27 employees taking the national exam in 2019 passed on the first attempt. We also provide a three-day orientation session for new employees with previous dialysis experience. We offer additional training to our RNs and monthly CPR classes for clinical staff. The department conducts annual competency testing for clinical staff to ensure we meet all CMS regulations. Annual water training is provided to all “water readers” by the educators. We also ensure compliance in Emergency Preparedness by conducting required training and exercises.

In what ways has the education department adapted to COVID-19?

Since the onset of COVID-19, the education department has provided education to the clinical staff regarding proper PPE usage (donning and doffing) and preventing the spread of the virus. We are currently developing a COVID-19 HealthStream module for all staff to ensure everyone is aware of the CDC plan for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. In the department, we practice daily screening for all employees and frequent disinfection of surfaces. We wear masks and practice social distancing in the office area and classroom.

What services would you like to build on by the end of 2020?

I would like to continue to improve the retention rates for new staff at CDC. I would also like to offer opportunities for nurses to develop their leadership skills. In the long term, I would like to have new hires on their way to program completion and be able to provide qualified caregivers to the units as positions become available.

What’s the most fulfilling aspect of the work of the education team?

Being able to observe the students as they provide safe, high-quality care to patients knowing that you played a role in providing the proper skills to that individual. It is very rewarding when a student passes the training program and the smile they have when Gary hands them their certificate on graduation day. I love when I am visiting a student in the unit and a patient tells me what a good job they are doing. I also love when a student comes in for class and tells me about their incredible ACT and the strong support they are receiving from their coworkers and facility manager.

What feedback do you receive from patients? Staff?

We complete annual patient care audits in each of the units. At that time, we have the opportunity to speak with the patients about their experience. The patients enjoy sharing their positive experiences in the facilities and stories about the great care they are receiving, and we love to hear them. We receive positive feedback from the trainees about their experience in the training program. They appreciate how thorough the training is and the hard work put in by the ACTs and educators to ensure their success. I would like the staff to think of us as a resource they can rely on for information. I love when I get a call or an email asking for guidance on an issue or clarification on a policy. We are always happy to assist in any way that we can.

Anything else you would like to share?

I hope that the employees at CDC view the education department as a place they can go for information and support. When you see us coming it shouldn’t be scary, it should be an opportunity to ask questions, get clarification, or any other help you might need. Our only goal is your success. We are here to encourage learning and growth. Even the most experienced among us needs the occasional refresher, the opportunity to learn something new. I am grateful to work with a group of dedicated, approachable, intelligent and downright pleasant women every day. This team works together to support each other and support the Mission of CDC. They pull together to ensure the success of every class and every project. Most importantly, we have fun doing it. I am excited to finish with the introduction of our two newest team members. This week we welcomed Vickey Scott, RN. She comes to us from the Short Stay program and is the new RN Educator. Also, Sue Rhein joined us from the Middleburg Heights unit as our new Dialysis Technician Educator. Together they add more than 50 years of dialysis experience to the department, bringing the grand total to more than 100 years!

Pictured above from left to right: Chrissie Hahn, Dialysis Technician Educator; Celestemarie Chaloupka, Administrative Assistant; Lisa Gardner, Dialysis Technician Educator; Liz Green, Director of Education; Vickey Scott, RN Educator; Maria Grega, Special Projects Coordinator; Sue Rhein, Dialysis Technician Educator (clinical)