Why Veterinary Practices Should Invest in CE
“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”
–George Washington Carver
The keys to team happiness are autonomy, mastery, and purpose1; all relate to the freedom to do what we love, do it well, and do it for the right reason. Building on George Washington Carver’s words, team leaders cannot expect their team members to achieve this freedom without the necessary tools.
Costs & Benefits
Continuing education (CE) is not optional. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians must acquire 10 to 45 hours of CE annually, which are typically due upon license renewal. In addition to being a legal requirement, CE is an investment that, when used properly, encourages team members to enhance and build their skills and promotes best-medicine practices.
As with any investment (eg, equipment, new team members), a cost vs benefit analysis should be completed before spending money on CE. For example, the following questions can help with the decision whether to make the investment of sending a veterinary technician to a conference:
- Will this investment help build a skilled, efficient, compassionate team that can help the veterinarians provide patient care? Many practice leaders say they want a skilled, efficient, compassionate team, but they need to take action to build it.
- Does the team member have interests in a veterinary medicine specialty? All practices have at least one team member who can help add a new service, grow an existing one, or take a time-consuming task from another member’s plate. Promoting CE capitalizes on team members’ special interests and builds engagement and empowerment.
- Can the information gained by the team member be leveraged to improve the other team members? Before investing in CE, ask how the team member’s experience can be maximized and expanded for the rest of the team. This can be accomplished by developing a project list (see Veterinary Technician Project List).
|Veterinary Technician Project List|
The following is an example of a project list for a veterinary technician attending a veterinary conference:
Knowledge is power is very true in veterinary medicine. Knowledge is also a great motivator. A team member who obtains knowledge and brings back new ideas or projects to share with other team members feels empowered, which is important because lack of empowerment can be a major reason for team member turnover.2
Making the most of CE classes is important for growing a veterinary practice. Education, empowerment, and camaraderie result in the best patient care.
Editor’s note: Stith Keiser is the founder and manager of My Veterinary Career (powered by AAHA), which matches veterinarians and practice managers with U.S. practices at no charge. He is also a partner in several mixed and small animal practices, where his responsibilities include financial sustainability, strategic planning, and team management.
Jennifer Yurkon has been involved in veterinary medicine for 15 years, first as a veterinary technician and then in management, where her responsibilities included sales, marketing, and inventory management. She recently started Copper Veterinary Advisors to pursue her passion of advising veterinary professionals.