What EMR Training Managers Wish They Knew Before a Project

Quote from the What Every EMR Training Manager Wants to know blog post that states, "The first thing I wish I knew at the start of my projects:  The EMR vendor is not the boss of me (or my team)."

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

An EMR Training Manager walks into a meeting, and a vendor hands her a list of big promises. If I really let you stop me there, this article would be over. Some of us have been there multiple times, and some of you are just heading into this meeting. Some vendors promise big things. “Don’t worry, we have proven methods to make your Go-Live successful.” Or my favorite, “Just make sure you complete the tasks as assigned in the time frame we recommend and you will have everything you need for your Go-Live training.”

Don’t get me wrong, some of these tools are great and will help your project be successful, but others can cause more harm than good, and the worst part is when your project team takes the vendor’s word as gospel. The first thing I wish I knew at the start of my projects:  The EMR VENDOR IS NOT THE BOSS OF ME (or my team).

Hiring as an EMR Training Manager

Let’s start at the beginning, the hiring phase. Here is what you know: I need X amount of Instructional Designers (or lead trainers, or someone to own the writing of each area). But let’s take a moment to read between the lines:  I need someone who is a strong writer, preferably a subject matter expert, a strong trainer, a natural leader, someone who is organized and dedicated (and by dedicated, I mean willing to work 60+ hours a week without complaining, quitting in the middle of this project, or starting a coup) for each one of my open positions.

You actually have more requirements for each position than it seems at first glance. MOST of these traits are typically overlooked, not even explored during the interview process. As a default, we hire for subject expertise (nurses, techs, etc.), or pull from an existing pool of trainers (who have little to zero writing experience or leadership ability). Sound familiar?

Before you make these decisions, you need to ask yourself: how well do you understand the role that you are hiring for?  And once you get these roles hired, what kind of training do you need to do as an EMR Training Manager to mentor them into success?

Timelines for EMR Training Managers

After you’re done figuring out the hiring issues, you face the ridiculous timelines. “Here, your lesson plans are due months before your build is complete, but don’t worry, we’ve written them for you, you just have to match the lesson plan to your workflow and build.”

Oh, you mean the workflow and build that are not complete until well after YOU say our lesson plans are due? Right, got it. And let’s talk frankly about canned lesson plans: they don’t work. Sure, they will get you by in a pinch, resulting in tons of “lessons learned,” dissatisfied end users, and a healthy dose of retraining both at the elbow and in the classroom post Go-Live. But really, we have time in the beginning of our projects to do something about it BEFORE we get to “lessons learned.”

It’s important to realize what a vendor offers you is a recommendation based on their experience. Therefore, while it’s valuable, it’s not the law.


Next lesson: The Go-Live date. Your Go-Live date as a Training Manager is NOT the same Go-Live date for the rest of your project team. Yours is 6-12 weeks earlier.

Your Go-Live date is the kick-off of your “Train the Trainer” program. Lessons need to be complete, your training environment built, classrooms set up, materials sent to the printer, wayfinding set up to your classrooms, call center (or help desk) established, course catalog published and enrollment underway,  playground or sandbox instructions and log-ins published… (the list goes on).

This is what I’m saying: no one publishes YOUR Go-Live date. The build team doesn’t realize that their deadlines are not your deadlines. YOU have to be your own advocate. Your Instructional Designers (or lead trainers) have to be embedded with their build teams to keep them apprised of deadlines. Once you get into Train-the-Trainer mode, there’s no looking back. What you have is what you are stuck with, and off you go.

To Sum it Up

These are some really high level insights, and I could definitely go on. But, like many EMR Training Managers, finding time to write an article is a miracle. Instead, I’ll offer you this: a series of upcoming articles where I explore some of the following topics:

  • Your EMR Timelines: The harsh truth of when your work needs to be done
  • Hiring for Fit: Why SMEs don’t always make great trainers (or Instructional Designers)
  • Leading Your Team: What your Instructional Designers need to know, but don’t
  • It Takes a Village: Realistic budget and resource planning
  • FTE vs. Contractor: Cost, experience, and other considerations
  • Lesson Plans: Classroom v. eLearning: effective technical training delivery
  • Workflow Based Training: Truly incorporating workflows into your delivery
  • The Tools of the Trade: Digital vs. paper, training vs. education