The quickest, easiest way to learn new physician scheduling software is working one-to-one with an expert. Your “personal trainer” can guide you to be sure everything is covered and can interactively answer questions unique to your situation. There is no need to scour manuals to point you in the right direction for your particular questions. Manuals, videos, and tutorials become handy support materials while working alone and when practicing the new software.
However, even with a trainer, learning new software can be a challenge.
1. Make Space for Learning: When (time), Where (physical), How (head). Learning needs to be treated like any other project with time allocated for it. This may mean a decrease in other responsibilities for a short time since feeling overwhelmed with too many other responsibilities will make learning less effective and ultimately take longer. Also, “making space” may involve “letting go” of the old way of doing things to make room for new ideas.
a) Are you a morning or afternoon person? Schedule training sessions when you are most alert and least likely to be interrupted. Unlike classes, one-to-one sessions can be scheduled to take advantage of when your “learning cells are on”.
b) Schedule training sessions just right: Schedule far enough apart to “sleep on it” and allow for practice, but not so far you need an extra review to “get up to speed.” Two sessions per week seem to be ideal for a regular learn/practice cycle. Keep to the schedule if at all possible!
a) A frequent cause of stress is underestimating the time needed to absorb new material, let go of the “old” scheduling method, and maintain a regular schedule of meetings to keep the ball rolling. New ideas and methods may seem cumbersome at first, so be sure you and your supervisor allot enough time for practice and homework
b) Working against a deadline is sure-fire trouble for learning something new! The instinct to use the old, familiar way “just to get it done” can be overwhelming when your on-call schedule “publish” date looms large, taking up “headspace” needed for new methods.
2. Break Up Material: Get an overview of the “big picture” first, then break up the new material into smaller, meaningful units. Your personal trainer will have done this for you already. Use a checklist if necessary to keep track of what you need to accomplish before the next session, and be sure to ask for additional support materials if you need them.
3. Practice with a Model: “Practice Makes Perfect” really is true.
When using a purely creative approach to learning, all results are equally valid. By using the new software tools to reproduce something already “known”, you quickly learn how to get predictable results and can immediately see and correct any mistakes. You will become familiar with new software tools in less time, with less pressure, and will then be fully ready to create something new with more predictable outcomes.
4. Self-Knowledge: Know how you learn best and use it for your benefit. Put new information into practice as soon as possible and have handy on-line access to the support materials you need such as Videos, Manuals, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers for a quick-call assist.
5. Ask Questions: Call or email with questions instead of struggling to the point of frustration. Discussing questions with your trainer, getting personal feedback, saves time otherwise spent chasing dead-ends, and helps your trainer understand your unique on-call scheduling situation even better. Review support materials for a refresher, but be sure to ask questions if needed!
How have you improved your retention and shortened training time when learning new on-line software?