The Pulse Of Veterinary Medicine

Vet-To-Vet Conversation With IDEXX

Getting Behind Continuing Education

In my 30-year career as a credentialed veterinary technician, I have been in small animal and exotic practices, research, education, corporate medicine, leadership, management and consulting. I may have reached my ultimate dream position at the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), and it’s icing on the cake to be a part of the NAVC team as Senior Manager of Veterinary Technician Programs. Over those 30 years, I’ve learned a few things about the importance of education in veterinary practices.

In my 30-year career as a credentialed veterinary technician, I have been in small animal and exotic practices, research, education, corporate medicine, leadership, management and consulting. I may have reached my ultimate dream position at the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), and it’s icing on the cake to be a part of the NAVC team as Senior Manager of Veterinary Technician Programs. Over those 30 years, I’ve learned a few things about the importance of education in veterinary practices.
 

The obvious, and less obvious, benefits

We all know that the only way for veterinary staff to stay current with new diagnostics, technologies, disease screening, management protocols and more is through continuing education. We also know that training existing and new staff members can require time and money. But it’s worth every effort and here’s why:

Veterinary medicine has changed—from medicine, treatment and procedures to technology and everything in between. Along with these changes, best-practice standards have reached an all-time high and have the potential to reach a much greater level with all of the tools available to us.

Each and every member of the veterinary health care team is equally important in the day-to-day operations of the practice. If staff members aren’t empowered to work to their full potential or given the tools to excel in their roles, the whole team suffers. The team will lack the self-confidence they need to fully leverage their skills. Education is key to upholding best-practice standards that allow patients, clients, your health care team and your practice to exceed expectations.

Happy team members have a higher retention rate and will stay at the practice that challenges them appropriately. Education provides your staff with goals to strive for every day, allowing them to work toward their individual and team potential. An educated staff can, in turn, help educate pet owners to better understand and be more likely to comply with your recommendations. And all of this leads to what matters most—the best possible care for your patients.
 

Continuing education (CE) is for everyone

CE is so important for everyone on the veterinary health care team. CE used to be considered optional—done only if you wanted to improve techniques or implement something new to make life easier in the practice. As time went on, we started to realize that CE is the only way to keep up with the times and learn what’s new out there—how to make the hospital more efficient, bring new instrumentation or protocols into the practice to increase revenue opportunities and how to provide more to our clients and patients as we improve upon best practices.

Last but not least, continuing education opens the door to new opportunities to enhance our passions and our careers. I’m happy that more states are starting to see the importance of continuing education and requiring it for licensing and credential renewal. I think states where there are no requirements to date will start to follow suit in this important area. Many of them have already begun the process.
 

Where to go for CE?

Many individuals ask me for the best way to fulfill their CE requirements. There are many options; we are very fortunate that so much of the industry is creating quality continuing education for us. In my opinion, IDEXX has done an outstanding job with the IDEXX Learning Center. There is a wide range of content, from learning and enhancing skills and performing procedures to focusing on the much-needed soft skills, such as how to interact with your hospital team and with clients and the public.
 

What’s your learning style?

With my past experience as an instructor and program director in veterinary technology programs, in educating clients and in presenting at various conferences and hospitals, I know firsthand that there are many different learning styles. Not everyone is going to learn by reading alone or listening to someone talk. Many times you have to combine learning styles and there must be a way to reaffirm everything presented. Many people lose concentration after an hour and will retain much more if given the opportunity to practice what they are taught. While there are many CE opportunities out there, only a few truly offer educational opportunities in the different learning styles we all need. I have found the IDEXX Learning Center to be one of the CE resources that does offer these options.
 

Got a minute—or two?

The IDEXX Learning Center offers many different modalities for learning, from seminars and webinars to on-demand courses that allow participants to learn at their own pace. In our busy day-to-day lives, there is often not enough time to sit for a webinar or training session. It can be easier to find time to watch asnippet or participate in the shorter modules available on the IDEXX Learning Center that allow you to advance as you have time.

The IDEXX Learning Center also offers STEPs—Simple Tools for Effective Protocols—for staff and management training, client education, protocol implementation and coaching. This is an easy and efficient way to learn how to implement change.

Veterinary professionals have such a passion and love for what they do, but they also need an easy and efficient way to learn, sharpen their skills and stay up-to-date in their day-to-day activities. By having resources that help do this, they can concentrate on what’s really important, which is ultimately their patients.

There will always be a need for more education. No one will ever “know it all.” As careers expand and change, there will be more to learn that we have yet to imagine. Growing in our careers and as individuals will keep us engaged in our profession and in helping animals as well as people. And education is our path to growth.


Julie Legred, CVT, Executive Director, NAVTA

posted by Julie Legred, CVT, Executive Director, NAVTA

Julie graduated from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, in June 1985 with an Associate in Applied Science in Animal Health Technology. She has worked in many areas of veterinary technology, including small animal and exotic practices, research, education (instructor and program director), swine genetics, corporate medicine, leadership, management and consulting. She currently holds the position of Executive Director of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, Senior Manager of Veterinary Technician Programs for NAVC and also works with her husband in their swine genetics business, LSG Health Systems, as Special Projects Coordinator.

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