“We provide specific hands-on training”

Trainee camp for the medical supply retail sector

From Bauerfeind Life Magazin on 02.03.2023

In short The Bauerfeind Academy supports the medical supply retail sector with subject-specific training by running five-day trainee camps in Zeulenroda and Dortmund. The cooperation partner is the prestigious Federal College of Orthopedic Technology in Dortmund. Since the first trainee camp in 2019, medical retailers’ interest in this incentive for trainees has been constantly increasing. Increasing numbers of medical supply retailers invest in their young employees’ qualification to retain them. Well-qualified sales staff also increases customer retention. This seminar conveys specialist industry knowledge that cannot (sufficiently) be catered for by a general technical college. Demand increases constantly, and individual technical colleges and companies book their own trainee camps, for example to prepare their trainees for exams. The trainee camp is an offer created for Bauerfeind Quality Partners, but trainees from other companies can also take part on recommendation. The exclusive cooperation with the Federal College of Orthopedic Technology strengthens the valuable network of industry, training, and companies in times of skills shortage.

Many medical supply retail stores invest in their trainees. In this way, they ensure access to a talent pool they can benefit from as well. But in trainees, there is a major shortage in industry-specific knowledge. A cooperation between the Bauerfeind Academy and the Federal College of Orthopedic Technology (Bufa) is working on filling exactly this gap. We visited a trainee camp at Bufa in Dortmund/Germany.

Trainees are in high demand. This is the case in many areas of retail and trade – and in the medical supply retail sector, a lack of upcoming talent is cause for even more concern, explains Fabian Zschernack, authorized representative of Munny Orthopädie GmbH in Bergisch Gladbach: “Without training, it’s completely impossible to get enough staff. We train up to five young adults every year. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to fill the gap. The biggest problem is that young people barely know about this industry. Who even needs a walker at that age? To solve the problem, we go to business mixers hosted in schools, hand out flyers, and we can also be found in online job portals, of course.”

“The trade and the industry have realized that, nowadays, we have to use all the options and channels for recruitment.”

Stefan Bieringer, Director at the Federal College of Orthopedic Technology in Dortmund

Stefan Bieringer has a good impression of occupational profiles in the industry and their development going back decades. He has been the Director at the Federal College of Orthopedic Technology in Dortmund since 2000 – and one Monday morning in October 2022, trainees from all over Germany gather for a five-day training camp organized by Bauerfeind. This is where the group will learn specific expertise that cannot be conveyed in general vocational schools. “The trade and the industry have realized that, nowadays, we have to use all the options and channels for recruitment,” emphasizes Bieringer, “becoming an expert sales clerk for the medical supply retail sector is just one career path among many.” Bauerfeind has been running the trainee camp since August 2019. It alternately takes place at the corporate headquarters in Zeulenroda and at the Federal College in Dortmund. This course has come about based on the training course “specialist medical supply retail sales staff for career changers and young professionals”, which has been in high demand for many years. The Bauerfeind Academy has designed a program tailored to trainees.

Specific expertise for practical use

The quality of the program design is evident in the group of 16 participants, including five from Munny GmbH. Bauerfeind Trainer Alexander Lehle explains the art of measuring for supports and compression stockings vividly, using practical examples. He shows the participants how this is usually done during the routines of everyday work – and how this, at times, awkward, close-contact situation can be dealt with more tactfully and expediently for staff and customers. The trainees join in the measurement exercises, visibly enjoying themselves. “It is this very specific knowledge that cannot be conveyed during day-to-day classroom teaching at a vocational school,” Stefan Bieringer explains. Fabian Zschernack can confirm this statement from a practical point of view: “The trainee camp helps a great deal more than just lessons at a vocational school. After all, selling medical products at a medical supply retailer is associated with higher requirements compared to other industries. All customers are sensitive when it comes to their health.”

“I wanted to work with people. I would definitely recommend the trainee camp.”

Asli Seval (Lettermann, Kempen branch, 1st year of training)

And in addition to expertise, it is also important to be tactful during the customer consultation – a key aspect for customer retention in the medical retail sector. That is why companies are often happy to provide this incentive to their trainees. After all, they benefit from specifically trained and motivated young employees themselves. “It’s a highly competitive market,” says Zschernack, “we therefore offer additional incentives to our trainees.” The trainee camp is an offer created for Bauerfeind Quality Partners, but trainees from other companies can also take part on recommendation. The vocational school themselves also see the trainee camps as a valuable addition, not as the competition. “Schools even send us direct requests,” reports Doreen Held, Project Coordinator at the Bauerfeind Academy, “because support from industry partners is important to prepare the students for the world of work.”

And even during these times of online learning, the trainee camp is set to stay an event with personal attendance. Doreen Held announces, however, that a prior e-learning module about anatomy, pathology and an initial product overview will be available before the trainee camp as of 2023: “In this way, we make sure that all participants come here with the same level of knowledge.”

Basic knowledge – and more

But this trainee camp is not an advertising campaign for Bauerfeind products. Knowing about foot orthoses, vascular diseases and the anatomy of the ankle, for example, is pertinent to all brands. But when it comes to quality features, such as the knitted fabric of a support, the trainees will use specific products to find out about the crucial and perceptible differences between manufacturers and explore the benefits high-quality medical aids have for the user. 

“I have a Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Syria. But technical standards in Germany are much higher. I learn a lot here, and work expands my knowledge.”

Omar Ostah Alhussaini (Munny, Bergisch Gladbach, 1st year of training)

The guiding principle summarized by Stefan Bieringer apply to all courses from the exclusive cooperation of Bufa and Bauerfeind: “The things we teach here can be put to practice right on the following day.” The program includes teaching sessions about anatomy, physiology, phlebology, compression therapy, different molding methods, orthotic care as well as a whole day of sales training – a truly realistic representation of everyday working life. Fabian Zschernack agrees: “Expert knowledge is needed to dispel clients’ uncertainties and concerns and make them feel at ease. Our employees are everything to our customers – physician, psychiatrist and the person taking time to listen to their needs.”

For more information about the Bauerfeind Academy, please visit: 

Images: Michael Bause

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