Vendor Victimization and The Drive-By Training


I cannot count the number of times a vendor has walked into my unit, spent 2 minutes explaining their product, asked for a signature, and then walked out. This made me crazy! Do you have a formal education plan? no. Do you have a competency? no. Are there follow-up educational tools available? no. But don’t worry! [Insert product name] is very easy to understand/use. ?

When an institution launches a new product, platform, technology, etc… it is usually for a good reason. The expectation is that it will in some way improve bottom lines, patient safety, efficiencies, and/or cost. If we are already dedicating our precious time to the process of transitioning, shouldn’t we be giving equal attention to the more granular details? Should we not be asking about the why, how, and what regarding objectives for an individual unit or entire institution?


First, it is important to understand the “why.” There are countless works on adult learning theory where we can find value is in their application to staff education. The Andragogical Model of adult learning theory is one that I really think works for what we are trying to accomplish (Knowles et al 2011). This model is broken down into six assumptions of adult learning:

The need to know – Why do I need to learn this? If the staff does not find value in the practice, product, etc… they will not be engaged and this need would not be met.

The learners self-concept – Adult learners want to be viewed as responsible for their own decisions as well as having good judgement. Additionally, learners become resistant to situations where they perceive being told what to do or that they’re doing something incorrectly. This is where careful messaging and preparing your staff is crucial to their success. Give them time to work though the reasons why this change is occuring; better, safer, cheaper product vs. a failure in their current clinical care methods.

The role of the learners experience – In my opinion, the most important assumption when developing an educational plan is knowing your audience. Understanding the quality and quantity of the adult learners experiences and educational background is crucial to the success of your plan. As adults mature and gain experience their educational needs shift. Keep in mind that education is not one-stop shopping, phases of life and experience need to be taken into account on the part of the educator. This is the “how.”

Readiness to learn – Pretty self-explanatory, the “when” and “why”; the learner is ready to learn what they need to manage their day to day work, this assumption ties nicely with the need to know.

Orientation to learning – Life-centered, task-centered, problem-centered; adult learners will manually sort their work into one of these buckets and assign value accordingly.

Motivation – The adult learner is motivated by their desire for self-improvement. Every clinician I know would admit they constantly strive to do a better job caring for their patients and families. Do not hesitate to tap into their personal motivation and drive to improve.

Greater emphasis needs to be placed on teaching and learning strategies. Focusing on experiential techniques ie: case studies, discussions, simulations etc need variation in style/time/place/learning etc (Knowles et al 63-67).

For these reasons, the ‘drive-by’ training does not work. It simply does not fulfill the above learning needs and most individuals would not thrive when put in this situation. The hurried and uninformative nature of the training style instantly puts the trainee on the defensive. Additionally, being asked to learn when you are only half listening never yields successful outcomes and frankly the above barely skims the surface of functional knowledge.

To further complicate the situation, these conversations are generally one-sided and not unidirectional. More often than not, you’ll have a vendor talking at staff with little attempt to effectively engage their audience. To be clear, I’m not implying that the vendor isn’t soliciting questions as they go or that the staff isn’t paying attention. However, I am a realist and know that when staff are in the middle of 800 things they are not truly focusing on the content of the “education.” They are merely, and at best, just listening. (I won’t even get into the literature on distractions and implications for patient safety).

Moral of the story:

  • These trainings are happening in suboptimal learning environments.
  • Not one of the six assumptions are met in the process.
  • This is a classic example of “getting out what you put in” regarding training effectiveness’.

Cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains of learning provide a framework for learning activities that shape how students learn to provide high quality care (Billings & Halstead 161).

Not only do you need to be aware of the adult learners mindset, you need to to focus on the 4 modalities of learning, visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile, and work to encompass a combination of each within your training (Billings & Halstead 2009). This can be a bit tricky depending on what you are educating on, but be mindful and make an effort to fulfill the domains.


Competency, what does that really mean and how to we obtain it? Great question, but not one that can be answered in this blog. The meaning of competency is a theoretical topic heavily explored in the nursing literature. What is comes down to, regardless of whichever framework your institution adopts, is that you have one. It is important to the organizational mission and satisfaction of your staff (and usually the state) to ensure they have the appropriate training, validation, and respective documentation.

Institutions have brilliant educational leaders, so execution of above often holds true with site designed education and implementations. However, issues can arise when you are dealing with outside people, aka vendors. It is hard to meet the same standards as you are usually at their mercy.

Adult education is a means available to organizations for furthering both purposes. Their work purpose is furthered to the extent that they use adult education to develop the competencies of their personnel to do the work required to accomplish the goals of the organization (Knowles et al 106).


The fix is simple, if you think about it. We need to change the narrative and set the expectation that things can be different. At Keriton we pride ourselves on being different and not your typical vendor. Keriton not only understands and values the importance of staff education; we act on it. We do not use a boilerplate training script that the learner must conform to. Instead, we provide a tailored educational plan to meet your needs, which includes face-to-face classroom education and practice exercises as well as online learning components. This plan is determined after a full on site assessment of staff roles, workflows, educational requirements, institutional change readiness, and conversations with leadership and staff. Our training platform takes into account all adult learning assumptions as well as domains of learning. Not to mention we are a pretty fun group of trained clinical educators.

Respect for roles. Respect for safety. Respect for productivity and effectiveness.

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Billings, Diane and Halstead, Judith A. Teaching in Nursing: a Guide for Faculty. 3rd ed., Saunders Elsevier, 2009.Knowles, Malcolm, et al . The Adult Learner: the Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. 7th ed., Elsevier, 2011.