What’s in an Age?

by Jan 15, 2019Medical Device, Speaker Interview

Marilyn Burns is the Director of Clinical Affairs at Symmetry Surgical. She is presenting at the upcoming Medical Device Clinical Training Conference on February 26-27 in Charlotte, NC. Learn more about her presentation below! 

Can you give a brief overview of your role at Symmetry Surgical?

I am the Director of Clinical Affairs at Symmetry Surgical, which is a surgical device company. We have a variety of surgical devices, and I wear a number of hats, but one of my favorite areas is providing continuing education and training. I’m fortunate to be able to support both Symmetry employees and clinicians worldwide. Attendees at my programs range from techs, nurses and surgeons to sales representatives, customer service representatives, leadership and even quality and regulatory professionals. I also speak at AORN meetings and other professional society meetings and facilities all over the globe. Additionally, I manage Symmetry Surgical’s eUniversity, our online learning system. Managing the eUniversity is particularly exciting because I’m a baby boomer (we are not known to be technically inclined)! Ironically, I speak on this topic quite a bit to help people in operating rooms (my specialty) get along since the majority of folks in operating rooms are baby boomers.

I’ve had all ages in my training classes, and I recently had my first Generation Z in a sales training class, which was interesting. The Gen Z age group consists of people born after 1995. They’re very new to the workforce. The person in my training class had actually graduated college in three years and was brand new to the workplace. We are just beginning to see the effects of Gen Z in the workforce and it is going to be interesting. In terms of numbers, they are going to take over for the baby boomers pretty soon. The millennials will be the biggest group, but the Gen Z’s are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Please share a short overview of your presentation, “Impact Of The Multigenerational Workforce On Training Program Creation”

It’s going to be a fun and enlightening session, so for the clinical trainers in the class, it’ll focus more on the reality of the situation and what the current reality in the medical device world is versus theoretical topics. We’ll quickly walk through the basic traits of each of the five generations, their characteristics and training styles, their behaviors in the workplace and how those behaviors relate to training. There’s also a lot of fun to be had too because we’ll likely have representatives from each of the age groups in the audience.

I think this is such an interesting topic because you can really see these characteristics in your family and friends, as well as in the workplace. It’s important to understand because of our dependence on every age group. We’ll look at the contrasts and similarities that emerge because our end-goal is discovering the takeaways and strategies that will be useful in a variety of training and work situations. Hopefully we’ll come up with interesting banter and takeaways for everyone.

It’s such an interesting topic. There’s a group called, “Traditionalists” and they are in their 70s. Many of them, are still working; especially in healthcare, people tend to just keep working and not stop. This group is in the workforce, trying to use technology, and then there are Gen Z’s, the first generation that has always had the internet. Traditionalists didn’t even always have television, so it’s such a difference in learning styles.

What are 1-3 key takeaways you hope attendees will learn from your presentation?

  1. A Multigenerational Workforce is complicated, but it’s life, and we’ve got to adjust and move forward. There’s no turning back.
  2. Training is not one-size-fits-all.
  3. Technology is a given, it must be the core of every training program, but a successful program will incorporate other content and delivery methods or none of the generations will fully engage. There’s a big problem in training that companies only think training is important when they need it, so they tend to stick with what they’ve always done versus moving forward.

Why do you believe it’s important for clinical training professionals to attend the Medical Device Clinical Training Conference?

Similar to my last point, it can be difficult to get your whole team on board. If you don’t get out and talk with other trainers who understand your struggle, you may not find the ammunition you need to move your training program forward. That’s why it’s beneficial to hear what’s worked for other clinical trainers. You’ll need support to lead the charge for change in your workplace, so meeting people who have gone through the same challenges can be helpful.


Gianna Canning is the Content Marketing Specialist at Q1 Productions, where she is responsible for developing, writing and disseminating emails, blogs and other marketing materials within the Life Sciences industry, with a specific focus on medical devices.


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