5 ways to welcome new veterinary team members

5 ways to welcome new veterinary team members

The best greeting you can extend is a thorough training and orientation program. The more time you spend on these crucial introductory steps, the more likely your new hire is to stick around—and flourish.
May 01, 2012

Have you ever hired an employee you were excited about but who turned out to be a complete disappointment? You thought this person would be an amazing addition to your team only to find out he or she was the worst hire ever. It's important to ask yourself: Was this employee really a bad hire—or is my practice the worst place to be hired? Many times veterinary practices hire good people but don't adequately train them or provide an environment where they're able to be successful.

Let's be fair to our new employees and provide an environment where they're set up to succeed. Here are five ways you can do this.


Instead of throwing new hires into the clinic with the currently overwhelmed staff, gently expose them to the new position via a practice orientation program. This program will teach employees about your hospital's policies and procedures and make them feel comfortable in the clinic. (See form and head to http://dvm360.com/orientation to download the handout.)

The practice manager or owner should conduct the orientation program on the employee's first day. Even if the new hire has already experienced some things on the list during the interview process, go back and do them again. The team member was probably nervous during the interview and may not have absorbed all of the information presented.

Orientation is a great opportunity to introduce the new employee to the team and motivate your current employees to do their best. When you introduce the new hire to a current team member, don't limit the introduction to names and titles. Instead elaborate on that employee's strengths and virtues.

For example, you might say, "Cindy, let me introduce you to Kelly. Kelly is an amazing technician who's been with us for four years. She takes radiographs better than any of our doctors and can find a vein like she has x-ray vision. I know you're going to learn a lot from Kelly—she's one of our supertechs!" Wouldn't you feel more motivated if you were Kelly?


After new employees complete the orientation program, you can throw them into the trenches and see if they survive, right? Wrong. Now it's time to begin the training process. Even if the new employee is a licensed veterinary technician with experience, you still need to train him or her on your practice's way of doing things.

The best program for new employees, including associates, is a three-to-four-week phased training program that outlines each task the new hire is expected to perform. The training I use begins with basic information, such as where the employee should park and how to use the time clock, and continues all the way to the most complicated procedures. (Download a sample program for receptionists at http://dvm360.com/phasetraining.)

After an experienced team member demonstrates a procedure, the new hire performs it. (Videorecordings of especially complex procedures lets the new employee review them further before performing them for the first time.) Once the new team member performs each task successfully, the supervisor checks it off the phased training program. At the end of each week the practice manager or owner reviews the checklist to make sure training was successful. After the program is completed, the new employee can be added to the schedule and start working with clients and patients.