For any practice, program or promotion to succeed, regardless of the objectives, the people who are responsible for carrying
out the details of the program must be educated on what they are expected to do. That is the core definition of training
- educating the force on what is expected of them.
Remember, training is an ongoing process - it'll never be completed or over. Just like housekeeping or even medical record
documentation, it'll always require updating, refining and implementation.
There is an abundance of evidence to support the belief that a well trained workforce is more productive, happier and more
stable (less turnover) than a comparable group of people without clear directions or instructions. In that sense training
is not a detraction from the work at hand, but a means of performing the work better and more efficiently. Those practices
who set aside time and resources for regular staff training are not only more profitable because the staff is efficient, but
they are simply nicer places to work because the staff is more focused.
Just as a practice must embrace new medical ideas and methods to stay competitive, that same practice must find ways to keep
the staff up to date on issues and directives. The traditional workplace of "9-5 and closed for lunch" is no longer the normal
in the veterinary profession so traditional training methods like meetings and seminars are not the answer to every problem.
Those methods still have their place in the training schedule, but alternative methods must be employed if the business is
to stay ahead of the problems.
Leadership Will Make or Break the Training
Every training program is destined to succeed or doomed to fail according to the emphasis it gets from the leadership. If
the practice owners show and support the message that all training - medical, safety, and procedural - is a mandatory component
of employment, then the staff will take it seriously. If on the other hand, the leadership doesn't show genuine support for
training programs, the staff will be unenthusiastic about anything that is perceived as "more work" or disrupting the normal
Leaders must also follow the rules that are in place for other workers. The staff will not abide by the safety rules if the
veterinarian owner of the practice believes in a "Do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. This goes for attendance at required
training functions also. The presence and participation of the practice leaders sends the message that the issue is important.
Likewise, the leader's absence sends the message that this stuff isn't serious enough to get their attention, so it must not
be important to us either.
Perhaps the best way for the leadership to support a training program is to make time in the schedule for it. The successful
practices have recognized that staffing at a level barely adequate to cover the workload on an average day leaves little room
in the schedule for staff improvement.
Finally, the leadership must create the expectation that all staff members will participate and support the training. Practice
owners must not allow associate veterinarians or senior technical staff members to disrupt the timing or flow of the training.
Routine treatments, telephone calls and deadlines are important, but so is training and neither should overshadow the other.
Only the senior leadership of the hospital can make training as important as any other part of the practice.