On-boarding Future Vocational Superstars aka Interns

VRC’s fill a critical role in an industry that is challenging to navigate. Preparing an intern to learn the worker compensation and other aspects of the VRC jobs is no small task and requires months of guidance, mentoring and coaching. How Voc firms handl the first few days and months of a new employee’s experience in crucial to the long-term success and employee productivity. While training and onboarding are not the only pieces that prepare an employee for their job, without them, changes are new hires will not make past the first few months.

Create a structured onboarding program is key to successful intern as well as employee onboarding. According to the study by several leading HR firms, when employees go through structured on-boarding, they are 58% more likely to remain with the organization after three years. Training is fuel for the onboarding engine and without one, the other will surely suffer Approach your new-hire program with care, taking time to consider all the little things that an employee or an intern will need to succeed at their job. Training should cover best practices, department or client specific policies, technology and have goals clearly stated.

This article outlines how to approach training an intern, and what to look for in a case management software that can streamline onboarding and training an intern or new employees
1- Develop and Share Best Practices

There are countless processes and techniques that a VRC hones over years of experience, in addition to that your firm may have specific ways to differentiate and handle work. For example, there are a variety of kinds of work and types of referrals, each with its own set of challenges, rules, and best practices. A well-trained VRC has a rich library of experience to help her:

  • Intake and review a claim file for a new referral
  • Identify and mitigate potential issues and barriers throughout the process
  • Communicate and work effectively with claims managers, injured workers, providers, and more
  • Produce concise and informative reports
  • Create well-founded job analyses and labor market surveys

Instilling these lessons and best practices with a VRC-in-training is daunting. Where to start? And how can one reinforce these best practices over time to help them become second nature? It will always be a long training process, and very demanding on both the intern and the VRC training her.

However, there are a variety of things you can do to make it more enjoyable for both of you.

  1. Create checklists and other reusable reference material: – Make reusable checklists for things like claim file review, writing progress reports, and closing reports. As you build out a reference library, you will find you can reuse it in the future with other interns!
  2. Set goals and milestones: – Each referral is different, and you can set goal-oriented milestones to guide an intern into best practices. For example, you might set a goal of completing an initial review within two working days of referral.
  3. Build a feedback loop: – Check in with each other occasionally about the training process itself. Ask questions like “what is going well?” and “what could we do better?”
  4. Make your software work for you:- If your case management software offers ways to manage and automate checklists and milestones to help reinforce best practices, take advantage. It will make both of your lives easier!
2- Establish and Monitor Quality Expectations

During the training, an intern will create many job analyses (JAs), labor market surveys (LMSs), progress reports (PRs), correspondence, and other billable artifacts. To ensure your customers continue to receive top-notch service throughout the training process, you need to apply quality control processes. Even the billing itself needs a level of quality control, because the billing is one way you communicate to your customers what is happening on a referral.

Communications and collaboration are key here. Specifically:

  1. Communicate your expectations and your quality control plan:- If you want to review every progress report before it is submitted, say so! If you have a checklist you will use to verify completeness, share it. Clearly communicating your own review process for “what does a complete and robust progress report look like” can only help. The same thing applies for letters, JAs, PRs, etc.
  2. Turn your corrections into learning opportunities:-  When you find a correction to make in a letter, don’t just make the change, just give the feedback to the intern so she can make the correction and learn from it.
  3. Use available collaboration tools:- Some case management software provides collaborative tools such as task assignment, due dates, completion tracking, and document versioning that can help you apply your quality control processes more easily.
3- Provide Timely Feedback and Review

It is vital to have scheduled periodic reviews that cover an intern’s entire case load. Periodic reviews let you:

  • Look at the overall course of a referral
  • Review the billing and note-taking for consistency and accuracy
  • Talk about risks and opportunities
  • Brainstorm what can be done

But you have your own case load, so how can you provide thorough reviews in the most time-efficient way possible?

To help you be efficient and effective in your reviews, the information needs to be organized in a standard and predictable way. Since this is all about information organization, it’s really all about the software.

Look for case management software that:

  1. Organizes referral and claim information consistently and clearly across all types of referrals
  2. Automatically imports and categorizes data from your customers
  3. Helps you schedule and remember periodic reviews
  4. Allows you to create and assign tasks based on your findings during reviews
4- Plan for surprises

You’ve spent countless hours teaching best practices to guide a referral through typical situations – but sometimes the train goes off the tracks. All kinds of surprises come up, and you need to know how you will help an intern work through those situations.

There are a few good practices you should employ to make sure you are handling surprises well, and to get the most of those surprise situations.

  1. Be available and responsive:– If you are training an intern, make sure she knows you are available to help deal with surprise situations. You are her safety net, and it’s important for her to know that even on days where she is mostly working alone you are available to answer questions. If you plan to take extended time off, make sure you have a backup person available, and make sure everyone is on the same page.
  2. Debrief and learn:– Make sure the situation is under control first, but don’t miss a good learning opportunity. Was the situation avoidable? Were there warning signs? What was the decision-making process when deciding how to deal with it? An intern can benefit immensely from walking through those questions and answers.

Wrap-Up

Clearly there are some common themes. Organization, communication, collaboration are all critical pieces of the intern training process. Good case management software will offer a lot of options to automate and simplify those best practices.

Gardiant offers world-class software for vocational rehab counselors and supporting staff. The software offers billing review, task management, document templating, referral & claim information organization, and many more bells and whistles that can help you train interns like never before!

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