Training Others Comes Naturally To This Former Girl Scout

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'You need to have an outgoing personality and be able to connect with people,' said Mia Luchins, a training and development specialist.
'You need to have an outgoing personality and be able to connect with people,' said Mia Luchins, a training and development specialist. (Credit: Courtesy Mia Luchins)

Mia Luchins is a training and development specialist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “This has been my career for the past 12 years,” explains the 41-year-old. “While the majority of those years have been in the healthcare field, I’ve also worked on projects for state and local governments and private industry." At her current job, she trains clinical staff on how to best use the technology systems at the hospital.

Why did you get into training and development? Did you always want to do this?

I grew up with two parents who had both been drill instructors in the U.S. Army. A little-known fact: The U.S. Army developed the methodology that is the basis of all learning and development back in the 1940s, to standardize training for all soldiers who were being deployed to the frontline. My dream was to become a PhD, but it was time to go into the real world, so I took what I knew with the help of my mentor and used it to go into a field I love. 

What does a typical day as a training coordinator look like?

Since COVID, my days are much different than before, as I am now 100% remote. I split my week between classroom training, development of training, and project management. If I have a class, my day starts by prepping for that class, making sure the databases are set up properly, that I have my class roster and that my computer system works. When I’m not teaching, I am in meetings with clients, teammates and my manager to discuss and plan future training.

What do you like most about your job? And least?

My favorite part is working with the clients and helping them find the best learning solution for their teams so that they have the skills they need to perform their job. I don’t know if I have a least favorite part. 

How did you train to become a training and development specialist?

I started training under the guise of having fun with the Girl Scouts when I was in middle school. At the time, I did not realize teaching them games, crafts, camping songs or the history of the Girl Scouts was preparing me for my future roles. Also, through the Girl Scouts, I wrote my first two training programs – one that earned me the Gold Award (the highest award in scouting, equivalent to the Eagle Scout). I continued working with the Girl Scouts through college. It wasn't until after college that I realized I had years of job experience that would help me find my first job as a training coordinator. Later, I got even more experience from on-the-job training, mentors and certifications.  

What personality traits or qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?

Communication skills are key. You must be able to take what the client is asking for and translate it into training. You must also be able to communicate with the learners and adjust for their needs, especially when you're in front of a class. You need to have an outgoing personality and be able to connect with people. While you don’t need to be an extrovert, you do need to like people. And flexibility is a necessary trait in this field. You’ve got to roll with the punches.

Is there a time where you felt your job made a real impact on someone’s life?

I know it sounds cheesy, but every day. What I do is to make sure that employees have the training necessary to do their jobs correctly so there are less errors and better outcomes for the patient experience. Whether it is teaching compliance issues, incident reporting or how to document in the electronic medical record, knowing how to do this properly ensures that our patients are always put first. 

Would you recommend that someone go into this line of work?

If you like people, and you love helping people achieve and grow, this is the perfect match for you. If you want to teach, but not necessarily in the classroom, this is also a perfect match for you. 

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you about your work?

Having a client request that I am the only one they want to work on their training development and execution.

If you weren’t in your current job, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t in this industry, I would probably be found in the halls of academia as a philosophy professor. 

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