Many readers resonated with my post on hiring. But the best response is worthy of its own guest post. The following ironically came from the mother of Justin’s girlfriend, after she saw the post on Justin’s experience in getting hired as a sushi chef. Thanks, Kathy!

Though I am out of your industry, my industry (healthcare) is certainly a consumer of the education system. Hiring right is about the most important thing we can do. Stakes are so high in healthcare. When we make mistakes, we can harm or kill people. The right people with the right training supported by our very best technology and work flow processes are our best defense.

Long ago, we recognized that our new graduate hires (specifically – nursing) had the expected technical skills but were really lacking in the critical thinking skills required to manage in this high risk environment.  We need healthcare workers that exhibit the perfect balance of independent critical thinking and the ever important ability to work effectively as part of a team. There’s no path to success for any healthcare worker if you can’t think, extrapolate your learning to other similar situations, and have skill at asking the right questions so the best answers have a chance to show up.

Your model has direct application here.

Several years ago, we closed a hospital and converted it into the country’s most comprehensive simulation hospital. It is equipped with expensive high fidelity mannequins that do everything from vomit, void, have heart attacks, express emotions, deliver babies, etc. EVERY one of newly hired nurses spends the first weeks of their employ working their full shift in the sim. hospital. Here, they learn our clinical protocols, our equipment (and by the way, the sim center is equipped with the EXACT equipment they’ll find when they arrive at the hospital to work on live patients). We have some of our very best clinicians in a control room concurrently feeding a scenario into the “patient” room. The students are videotaped. The instructor can continue to challenge the student (through the scenario) to strengthen their specific learning needs at the time.

In this environment, our employees can fail faster knowing that their “errors” won’t harm a patient. Because we can simulate situations over and over, new hires can become proficient in a way that is not possible if you do something once a week on the job. It’s a work in progress, but we have cut weeks off of our orientation time of old where new hires would be assigned a preceptor on the nursing unit.  In addition to this efficiency, we can provide our patients a safer and more competent workforce.

We do the same thing with our medical students and residents.

Technical skills can be taught.  The all important emotional intelligence skills are needed today and will be that much more needed in our healthcare of the future.