7 Tips for Giving Great Inservices to Your Nursing Assistants

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Follow these 7 easy tips to energize your CNA inservice training. You’ll be greeted by excited, eager to learn employees rather than tired, dull-eyed and disinterested people!

Like it the old fashioned way?

Have you ever gathered your nursing assistants for an inservice meeting and found yourself staring at a bunch of tired, dull-eyed and disinterested people? Wouldn’t you rather be greeted by excited, eager to learn employees? Try implementing these 7 tips to freshen up your CNA inservice training:

1. Keep It Relaxed

Adults tend to take their mistakes personally and often feel embarrassed if they make an error in front of their peers. During your inservice sessions, try to keep the atmosphere relaxed and non-threatening. Sit with the group rather than standing and looking down on them. And make sure they know that you welcome questions as an opportunity for everyone to learn, including yourself.

2. Mix Things Up!

Have you assessed how your employees like to learn? Most adults usually learn best in one of three main ways:

1. Visually…by watching someone else perform a task or by looking at diagrams or pictures.
2. Actively…by physically handling pieces of equipment or by practicing a transfer technique.
3. Orally…by listening to a speaker or being talked through a procedure.

So, as you plan your teaching strategy, mix things up by incorporating all three learning styles. For example, spruce up your handouts with photos or relevant clip art. Ask for volunteers to teach part of the inservice by reading it out loud. Encourage relevant activities such as role playing. And, bring in any client care equipment that relates to the inservice topic.

3. Forget Those Boring Pre-Tests

While pre-tests have their place, you can liven things up by simply asking what your staff already knows about the subject. For example, if the inservice topic is Understanding Diabetes, ask the nursing assistants for a list of five or ten things they already know about the disease. You can write their responses on a board or flipchart. In this way, you are giving credit to your staff for their prior learning and experience. (And, if someone has a misconception about the disease, youâ’ll know to clear it up during the inservice.)

4. Give Self-Study a Try

Adult learners like to feel they have some control over when and how they learn. That’s why self-study inservices are effective. To check for compliance with completing the inservices, try this tip. Distribute your inservice materials for self-study, but don’t give out the quiz. Tell your nursing assistants that they can come to you (or a designee) sometime in the next two weeks to sit down and take the quiz. This prevents the quiz from being completed as an open-book test and provides a clearer sense of what your employees are learning on their own.

5. Ask Questions!

Many adults are better at talking than at listening. Use this to your favor by asking a lot of questions during your inservice meetings. Remember to avoid yes or no questions; instead, come up with questions that generate discussion. Encourage everyone in the group to give input at some point by making it fun. Give out play money to those who participate and have small prizes or snacks they can buy with their loot.

6. Keep Them Moving!

Remember to allow for at least one 2-minute stretch break during each inservice hour. You may also want to devise participatory activities (like role play) that require people to get out of their seats and move a little. This helps get the circulation going and improves learning!

7. Give Them a Reason to Learn

There are a number of ways to help motivate your nursing assistants to continue learning on the job. For example, provide frequent reminders of your state and/or workplace requirements for inservice hours. Or how about giving a small pay raise or a lump sum bonus to employees who never miss an inservice! You might also make prompt inservice completion a stepping stone to higher job status. For example, aides who remain current with their inservice requirements can be designated as preceptors for newly hired nursing assistants.

Incorporating just one of the above tips will liven up your inservice sessions. By adding all 7, your CNAs won’t know what hit them!

Happy Teaching,
Linda Leekley

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