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Dome - Training for an Epic Assignment

Dome March 2014

Training for an Epic Assignment

Date: March 1, 2014


Epic instructor Gregory Freitag tailors training for specific roles.
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Epic instructor Gregory Freitag tailors training for specific roles.

Melody Capitola peers at her computer screen, then flips through the pages of a workbook before typing in her answer. The 51-year-old is one of nine nurses and medical assistants taking a two-day Epic training class in a cozy first-floor room in the A Building of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. 

Since 8 a.m., students have been learning how to use the electronic medical record system by creating fictional patient records, adding imaginary vital signs, ordering immunizations and creating schedules. Now, at 2:30 p.m., they are wrapping up for the day.

As instructor Gregory Freitag walks between the rows of computer-topped desks, providing guidance and answering questions, Capitola and the others in the class take an assessment to show what they have mastered and fill out course evaluations about the experience.

Epic, the electronic medical record system launched in April 2013, is now in use across most of Johns Hopkins Medicine. (Suburban Hospital and The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s emergency departments will go live in July and August, respectively.)

All Johns Hopkins employees who use Epic must first learn about the system through a combination of online and in-person instruction. This training program, which is tailored to specific roles and updated based on the comments of past participants, is essential to the success of the Epic rollout, notes Jeff Ostrow, senior training manager for the Epic project.

Capitola, a traveling nurse who lives in New Castle, Pa., is one of an estimated 14,316 Johns Hopkins staffers who received Epic training in 2013, according to Ostrow. “The class today was very helpful, because it gave me hands-on experience,” says Capitola, who was hired for a 13-week assignment at the Wound Healing Center on the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus.

The Epic courses are offered six to eight weeks before each go-live by instructors like Freitag who have undergone their own intensive training, says Ostrow. The same instructors teach smaller groups, like Capitola’s, for new hires and people moving from a department that doesn’t yet have Epic to one that does.

Though the number of Epic instructors will decrease after the rollout is complete, courses for newcomers will still be offered, Ostrow says.

Evaluations from students, along with comments from the trainers, are used to continually improve the courses, says Ostrow. For example, he says, the curriculums for hospital physicians and surgeons will have more online instruction, including scenario-based exercises for specialties, and four fewer classroom hours.

—Karen Nitkin

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