How to Make Veterinary CE a Reality

Encouraging veterinary professionals to pursue veterinary continuing education (CE) can be challenging for a number of reasons. While there are always advancements in veterinary medicine, there are some areas that don't change much—this can pose problems for experienced professionals looking to continue their education. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult to find topics that team members find interesting, leading to decreased motivation.

While professionals are required to complete a designated amount of veterinary CE to maintain their licenses, finding ways to help them get more value out of their CE or increase how much CE they do can also be challenging—especially if your practice is impacted by staffing shortages and team members are already taking on additional responsibilities. It's also important to consider whether team members are actually benefiting from their chosen CE, or if they're simply completing their hours to check a box and maintain their license.

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Here's how you can help support the veterinary professionals on your team and encourage their pursuit of veterinary CE, by thinking outside the box, incentivizing, and making it accessible.

Think Outside the Box

When it comes to thinking about what kinds of CE to encourage team members to pursue, don't get hung up on focusing solely on veterinary CE. While you need to ensure you and your team members meet license requirements, there are many other areas where the team can get continuing education. From veterinarians and technicians to receptionists and assistants (who sometimes end up with the most limited or even no CE), there are many non-veterinary resources that can be beneficial, as many skills are transferrable from industry to industry. You may not be able to use all of this alternative CE for license requirements, but that doesn't mean it won't be beneficial to the team as a whole.

When you're searching for training for your team, consider:

  • Communication training
  • Productivity training
  • Empathy training
  • Conflict resolution training
  • Foundations of happiness at work
  • Positivity and culture training

Incentivize Your Team

After finding new avenues from which to learn, how can you motivate your team to attend or complete trainings? One way is to pay them for the time spent working on CE—monetary incentives can go far. This should be tailored to what works for your practice and budget. It's common for veterinarians and technicians to have an annual budget for veterinary CE, and sometimes, paid CE days. It's difficult to ask teams to take time off for CE without compensation—especially for team members who don't need CE for a license. Consider offering paid CE days for support staff, including assistants and receptionists. This may include sending them to a training day or allowing them a budget for CE. While this costs the practice money, it's an investment in your team members and your practice.

Some veterinary practices incentivize CE by increasing wages for team members who receive CE and then present what they have learned to the team. This might include taking a day off for a team retreat and training. Consider asking the team to decide on a specific focus, with each department spearheading a section and reporting back with their findings in a meeting. This is also a great way to create culture, improve teamwork, and make progress as a practice—all while getting CE.

Make It Accessible

During staffing shortages, making time for CE can be difficult, but it's still important for all team members. To encourage team members to pursue CE, make it accessible. This might look different at each practice. For example, you may need to allow for CE to be done during work hours (close for a few hours so team members can focus). Or, encourage team members to spend an hour or two after work or other off-hours on CE with a mobile app or online class—and compensate them for their time.

Ask your team how you can make it accessible for them. If you want team members to set aside time to focus on CE so everyone can benefit, you need to find the balance between what works for team members and the practice.

Encouraging your team to invest their time in CE starts with meeting with them. Talk with team members about the importance of veterinary CE and discuss how a team CE program could work. With your support and incentivization, you can motivate them to pursue CE.

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Meg Oliver

Meg Oliver is a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager in New York with over 26 years experience in veterinary medicine. She manages a four doctor practice and writes for several veterinary publications. In her free time, she enjoys time with her husband, daughter and twin boys.

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