One practice often overlooked during sterile processing training is ensuring that technicians develop good habits right from the moment they start in the job.
So said Adam Okada, a clinical education specialist at Healthmark Industries, during a recent episode of the Process This podcast, which is produced by the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM). Okada drew a comparison between the training of sterile processing technicians and that of fast-food workers: Both groups receive high-level initial training but are then expected to work independently soon, he said.
And experts agree that work environment is fast-paced and high-pressure.
“We teach them the skills and then say you’re on your own now," Okada said. “I don't know if we should be modeling the fast-food industry as far as quality and accuracy."
In his first role as an educator, Okada surveyed employees from three different sterile processing departments to gauge their feelings about the initial training they received. Results showed that 72 percent found it unsatisfactory, while 7 percent considered it good.
Some of the challenges that technicians face during their training, in addition to developing good habits, include understanding and staying focused on the steps and why they’re necessary to protect patients, Okada noted.
He emphasized that the role of a sterile processing technician has become more demanding due to the growing complexity of different types of guidelines for endoscopes and their instructions for use (IFUs).
One way for educators to address this issue is to understand how profoundly their actions impact patient care, Okada noted.
He offered educators two tips when training others:
Click here to listen to the Process This episode, the conversation with Okada starts at about the 13:40 mark.