Safety officers and practice managers often ask a question similar to this – “Do I really have to provide physician bloodborne pathogens training? OSHA doesn’t mandate training for them like the rest of the practice’s staff, does it?”
The simple answer is that OSHA does not exempt any employee, including physicians and clinicians. Anyone who is is exposed to bloodborne pathogens is mandated to complete initial and annual bloodborne pathogens training required by the standard. For more information read about which workers need bloodborne pathogens training.
What if a physician owns their practice?
It’s a common misconception that physicians who are also owners of their practice are not subject to OSHA requirements. The fact is that the Bloodborne Pathogens standard applies to most practices organized as a professional corporation – it is the rule rather than the exception.
The devil is in the details
Although most physicians know that their practices are subject to some form of OSHA regulation, they are not clear on the specifics. This often holds especially true regarding their own training under the standard.
Having said that, understanding this overlap is no guarantee that physicians will jump at the opportunity to attend a bloodborne pathogens training session. Usually, it’s quite the reverse.
“I don’t need bloodborne pathogens training; I learned that in medical school” is a common response.
You should also note that OSHA require the bloodborne pathogens training for healthcare workers to have additional content
Remember the ‘WHY’?
Although the requirement for OSHA training is the same for all employees occupationally exposed to bloodborne pathogens, the approach to training physicians can, and sometimes should, not be identical.
With physicians you are dealing with highly intelligent professional people; so the training should cover more than just ‘you have to do it.’ The ‘why’ should be explained in detail along with the benefits to achieve physician buy-in.
Online Bloodborne Pathogens Training
In addition to providing online bloodborne pathogens training that is interactive as required by OSHA it’s also important to introduce new content with annual training.
BloodborneCertification.com recommends appealing to the safety culture that the organization maintains when dealing with physician OSHA training. That can also include ensuring that your physicians act as safety champions.
Try and involve physicians directly as Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) if you are developing in house training, or using a blended solution with an online training provider. Locate a champion in a leadership position on the medical to help make it knowledge-based and as easy as possible to navigate through while still giving them new information.
Engagement makes for effective training
When engaging trainees for physician bloodborne pathogens training, imagine yourself as a facilitator, not a drill instructor.
Using case studies is one method that can be especially effective in initial and annual training because it involves analysis and decision-making. If, as so many practices are nowadays, you are using an online bloodborne pathogen training provider ensure you choose a course that has interactive dialog simulations or other elements that give this case study experience in an online platform.
Don’t forget that for bloodborne pathogens, OSHA allows you to tailor the training program to the learner’s job duties, background and education. You might not need to spend as much time on the causes, signs, and symptoms of HIV with physicians as you would for other employees.
Tips for a great Bloodborne Pathogens training session
Here are some tips on creating a seamless physician bloodborne pathogen training program:
- Work toward creating a training program that provides knowledge-based content uses an engaging method of delivery and allows for one-to-one reinforcement.
- Remind physicians about maintaining a culture of safety and being a safety role model for other staff.
- Explain the ins and outs of being a physician practice owner while at the same time being legally an employee subject to OSHA compliance.
- Caution that noncompliance as the owner or employee on initial and annual training could have severe financial impacts on the practice in the form of OSHA fines.
Consider providing on-demand online bloodborne pathogen group training that can be easily managed and be accessed and used on any device at any time.
Physicians are busy and being able to complete the training over several small sessions on the device of their choice will make the whole process a lot less painful for you and them.