Veterinary Technician Training: 4 Ways to Offer Your Staff More Education
Do you regularly schedule veterinary technician training only to find that it gets put on the back burner month after month? In the hustle and bustle of a busy practice, staff training can be overlooked. Consistent staff training, especially for veterinary technicians who provide patient care, is critical to keeping your practice up-to-date on current techniques, medications, and products. Here are some easy and practical ways you can incorporate veterinary technician training into your practice's busy schedule.
Set Aside Training Time
If your practice is like most others, the biggest challenge with training is finding time for it. But an informed team is crucial to your practice's success, so make training a priority. At the beginning of the year, block off time on the calendar specifically for training. To avoid scheduling conflicts, tell everyone that this time is dedicated to training, so that all of the technicians can plan to be there — even if it's their normal day off. You can schedule training for whenever works best; you can try breakfast meetings, lunch and learns, or end-of-the-day training. Mix it up to prevent training sessions from becoming routine and boring.
Take Advantage of Free Education
When sales consultants come calling, don't brush them off. If companies have a new product they are eager to show off, let them! Invite them to one of your scheduled training days for a lunch and learn. Fostering relationships with consultants can help lighten your training load, because they'll be more than happy to provide training on their products and services for you. This will not only keep your staff up-to-date on the latest products and services available, but it will also teach your staff how to use them properly. As an added bonus, consultants often have a budget for snacks, and may offer free product samples.
Encourage Continuing Education
From large conferences to small dinner presentations and web-based lectures, there is no shortage of options for veterinary technician continuing education. Encourage your technicians to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. Although free lectures may be available, set a continuing education budget so that your veterinary technicians can also attend larger conferences, workshops, or hands-on labs each year. Your investment can reap training rewards for your entire team: Ask the attendee to prepare a recap of the take-home points from the lecture or lab and present them to the team during the next scheduled training day.
Ambitious technicians often seek ways to further their education and satisfy their need for personal growth. Encourage technicians to pursue certification in one of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA)-recognized specialties, such as anesthesia, dentistry, or critical care. Or, if a veterinary technician is passionate about low-stress handling, provide support so they can become Fear Free certified. Not only will higher-level certifications give your technicians a personal sense of accomplishment, but they will also bring cutting-edge knowledge and techniques into your practice to the benefit of all team members.
Share the Responsibility
If the same person has to lead every training session, they can get overwhelmed. By sharing the responsibility, everyone involved can play an active role in training while lightening the load on the training coordinator. Create a schedule appointing a different veterinary technician to present on a topic of their choice on a rotating basis. If you alternate these presentations with other types of training, each team member will present only once or twice per year. Make these training sessions fun and informal, but set the expectation that the presentation must include quality information. Provide lunch or appetizers from a favorite restaurant so your veterinary technicians look forward to these training sessions. Here are other ways to encourage staff buy-in:
- Allow the presenter to choose the menu for the meeting.
- Reward everyone who presents with a gift card or other prize.
- If the presentation covers a new product or service that veterinary technicians can help market (like a new parasite preventive), hold a friendly competition for the next month to see who can generate the most income for the practice, with a reward for the winner.
Veterinary technician training doesn't have to be a daunting task. Incorporate these suggestions and watch your team (and your practice!) flourish.