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Dr. Steve Vargo | 9/10/2019

When you hire new staff, the next step is training. Some people are quick to skim over this process and others have no idea where to begin when it comes to teaching new employees, but training is an important part of effective optometry practice management and an untrained staff could be costing your practice more than you think.

Why Training New Workers is Important

A well-trained staff is the hallmark of a successful office that consistently exceeds patient expectations. They make fewer mistakes, operate more efficiently, and need to rely less on you for constant management.

While so important, the most common excuse I hear for not training new employees thoroughly is lack of time. A lot of people insist that they don’t have time to train new staff, but for many practices, the reason they don’t have time is because of poor employee training to begin will. If you have untrained employees, you will spend a lot of time fixing their mistakes or putting out fires that resulted from their lack of training. Instead of letting this problem continue to snowball, it is time to be proactive with your new hires and learn how to train a new employee the right way.

How to Train New Employees

Even if you are willing and eager, you may be grappling with the best way how to train a new employee. You are not alone; a lot of practice owners struggle with new employee training and if you don’t already have something in place, it is hard to know where to begin. Fortunately, these tips on training new employees should help you at least get the basics in place.

Have a Structure in Place

Having a system for new staff training usually yields better results than a less structured method. A scattered approach to employee training may lead to too much information at once or on the other end of the spectrum, not enough. Trying to teach too much at once can be overwhelming to a new hire, especially one without experience in the eye care field. On the other hand, lack of structure and information may lead your new employee guessing on what to do next. Both the rapid-fire and the lackadaisical approach to employee training may result in costly mistakes for your practice.

Instead, take a slow and methodical approach to new employee training to ensure competency. Develop a clear onboarding process and have standard operating procedures already in place.

Be Thorough

When training new employees, it is important to thoroughly educate them on all their duties. For example, if you are training a tech to do a specific test on a patient, then don’t just show them “how” to do the test, but also explain the reason for the test and what you are checking for. Not only does this help your new employee’s understanding but also it can help your business. When employees are unable to explain test procedures or answer patient questions, it reflects poorly on the practice.


One of the best ways to train new employees is to demonstrate how to do the tasks. Many people need to see an example of something being done before they can do it one their own. While demonstrating, encourage your employee to ask questions and take notes that they can refer back to.

Be Patient

If you want your employee training to be effective, you need to be patient. Trainees will often nod their head up and down during training, but this doesn’t always mean they are comprehending what you are saying. You will likely have to re-explain procedures or do multiple demonstrations. You may also want to periodically quiz the trainee on things you have taught to ensure they understand.

Become the Student

If you want to train new staff effectively, you need to become the student. One of the best ways to learn something new and have it “stick” is to teach it to someone else. Have the employee perform a test on you or complete a task while you watch and explain the process to you as they do it. As before, ask questions to ensure they have an adequate understanding of the task. Until the employee can successfully perform a task without your assistance, don’t assume they have mastered the task.

Training new staff members can seem complicated or a waste, but it is important for your practice that everyone on your teams know what they are doing. If you still want clarity on onboarding new employees, we are here to help. Our HR services for optometrists can help you put clear standards in place, so you can spend less time putting out fires and more time running your practice effectively.

Dr. Steve Vargo
Practice Management Consultant
Steve Vargo, OD, MBA is a 1998 graduate of Illinois College of Optometry. After working in a clinical optometric practice for several years, Dr. Vargo pursued his passion for practice management by earning his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Phoenix in 2008. A published author and speaker with 15 years of clinical experience, he serves as IDOC’s Optometric Practice Management Consultant and advises members in all areas of practice management and optometric office operations. Steve and his wife Melanie have two sons, Lucas and Ryan. In his spare time, he enjoys running, cycling, sports and music. A native Chicagoan, he is an avid fan of the Cubs, live music and deep-dish pizza.
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