Mandatory CE: Right for your veterinary team?

Mandatory CE: Right for your veterinary team?

A more knowledgeable team means a better experience for clients.
Dec 01, 2013

Dr. Michael Joyner, owner of East Lake Veterinary Center in Killeen, Texas, requires his practice administrator, his office manager, three receptionists, six veterinary technicians, two technician assistants and a pet groomer to attend regular seminars to keep up with the latest trends and innovation.

"There are many benefits of having a knowledgeable support team," says Dr. Joyner. "The most important is that it enables us to practice good medicine and provide better service. I can also delegate more, which enables me to focus on diagnosis, treatment and surgery, and it greatly increases our productivity and profitability."

Where mandatory CE happens

"We have one-to-two-hour mandatory, monthly staff meetings," says Dr. Joyner. "Every other month, we include an additional safety segment that tackles such topics as preventing injuries, proper lifting techniques, how to read a pet's body language and preventing bites. When new products or services are added, educational seminars are scheduled with vendors so that everybody understands their benefits. Then there are conferences, where staff get training on a wide range of topics."

What mandatory CE costs

"Mandatory meetings and training are always with pay," says Nora Joyner, East Lake Veterinary Center's practice administrator. Joyner estimates that total costs for team members' continuing education—including travel, hotels, meals, conference fees and salaries plus lost revenue from days the practice is closed—is roughly $11,000 a year.

"And when a team member acquires new knowledge and skills and demonstrates proficiency as a result of such programs, he or she receives a raise as technicians also do when they become certified," Joyner says.

Job applicants are told of this continuing education requirement during their first interview. Some balk at this requirement, which Dr. Joyner says is just as well.

"We want people who are motivated to learn," Joyner says, "and who view continuing education as an opportunity and a benefit."

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is the author of seven best-selling books, including 101 Secrets of a High Performance Veterinary Practice and 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices.