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Veterinary Team In-Hospital Training – Is it the Right Focus?

July 2, 2018

Are you truly offering what they need?

When you offer your veterinary team in-hospital training that is relevant to professional development, you can watch them THRIVE!

Does your veterinary practice offer the right kind of training?

Considering your time in the veterinary setting, how many people do you know were “let go” because they couldn’t perform technical skills adequately? In my experience, and from random polling during interactive classes, few team members are fired because of technical skills.

Now, consider how many were “dismissed” because they couldn’t play nice in the sandbox? It seems more team members are fired or leave because of personal conflict, lack of accountability and inability to follow policies. While training for technical skills is essential, and let’s face it, easier, it’s really the softer skill sets that are critical for day-to-day interactions with co-workers and clients. Ensure that all training aspects are covered (soft skills and hard skills) by focusing on a blend of both kinds.

Does your veterinary practice offer in-hospital technical training?

If yes, that is fantastic! Keep it up! Read further to discover other ways to engage and grow your team, personally and professionally.

If you answered no, realize there are many ways to bring technical training into your practice at little or no cost. Of course, there is time involved in organizing; however, it is time WELL SPENT!

I vividly recall coordinating a technical training class at Town & Country Animal Hospital when we purchased our first ultrasound in 1991. We decided to create an in-hospital training for everyone on the team, including receptionists. We closed the hospital early, ordered dinner (more than likely Mario’s Pizzeria, a classic), sedated two of the team’s pets (one being Jema, my young black lab), and proceeded to have an interactive, engaging class. The veterinarians assisted the technicians and assistants in probe placement and location of organs while the receptionists viewed the screen and printed the reports. We felt that it was important for everyone to understand the process because every team member is responsible for the client and patient having a good experience.

Does your veterinary practice offer communication and soft skills training?

If yes, WAY TO GO! Your team is receiving great support in personal and professional development. Communication and soft skills (conflict resolution, professional etiquette, emotional intelligence, etc) are incredible tools for success!

If you answered no, now is the time to coordinate and reach out to partners willing to facilitate programs on the valuable topics. Recently, I facilitated an interactive class with a great team in Colorado. The topic was combating burnout and fatigue by identifying work and personal stressors and ways to relieve stress. Near the end of the program, the team established two goals to continue their conversations.

  • To revisit their True Colors personal preference training from the previous Fall
  • The Culture Coordinator was going to beef up their opportunities to celebrate personal and professional achievements

That’s only one example of soft skills training. There is an abundance of topics and resources!

Benefits for providing In-Hospital training include:

    • Enhanced understanding of services/equipment/products/delivery of veterinary medicine
    • Improved team and client communications
    • Professional development in critical soft skills
    • Opportunity for camaraderie
    • It can be FUN! 

Different types of training experiences

In-hospital training is possible no matter the circumstances (big or little, companion or mixed animal, general practice or specialty, rural or city).  Depending on your resources, you may have to be creative. Team members are encouraged to step up, create a training program and offer the class to others on the team. This is a great option as team members now can add public speaking to their skills list! Examples of team members designing and facilitating in-hospital training:

  1. Technician and veterinarian describes a cool case explaining the history, diagnostics and differentials, treatment plan and outcome.
  2. Manager coordinates the reading of a professional development book. Each month the team reads a chapter and shares their learning experience (I recommend Seven Habits of Highly Effective People)
  3. Technician pulls together an OSHA Safety training on the topic of Radiation Safety
  4. Assistant and veterinarian focus their class on laboratory protocols, recording results and charging

As you may be aware, many Industry Partners offer in-hospital training. Simply ask your veterinary representative what is available. If you’re thinking “I don’t want a sales pitch,” consider the benefits of your team knowing the product and their ability to inform the client. Having a knowledgeable team consistently addressing your client’s questions and concerns (demystifying what they learn from the internet, TV, or any type of advertising) will add credibility to your hospital.

Of course, I would be silly not to mention that CATALYST VetPC  offers training, either in person or virtually!  We believe strongly in supporting the “softer” skill sets as we care about and understand veterinary teams. We want people in the veterinary industry to thrive in their lives, both personally and professionally. Whether you reach out to us, another valued partner, or present something internally, make sure you choose training that benefits your team in ALL aspects of their career. Enhancing skill sets keeps people engaged and leads to greater loyalty, satisfaction and retention within your hospital. Yours in Team Training, Rebecca Rose, CVT