Practice smarter, not harder, to master new skills

Practice smarter, not harder, to master new skills

When dreaming up new training methods for your veterinary team members, include a diverse set of activities and drills for maximum effectiveness.
Aug 03, 2010
By staff

Perhaps you have new practice management software that team members need to learn. Or maybe you’d just like to institute new cleaning procedures to eliminate odors in your clinic. Whatever the skill, you’ll train team members more effectively by using a diverse set of drills and practice exercises.

Researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of California-Los Angeles studied 59 volunteers who were tasked with performing a challenging arm movement. Half the participants practiced the movement alone, while the other half added related tasks in a variable practice structure.

The latter group showed better retention of the skill, since the variable practice structure engaged a part of the brain—the prefrontal cortex—associated with higher-level planning. Meanwhile, participants who practiced just the arm movement struggled to retain the skill, since the movement engaged the primary motor cortex, an area of the brain associated with simple motor learning.

Keep these results in mind next time you develop training exercises for your team members. The old adage “Practice makes perfect” might not be enough anymore—at least not if it’s the wrong kind of practice.

Hot topics on dvm360

Pol on defense as Michigan veterinary board discusses negligence charges

Controversial reality TV veterinarian calls his approach 'common sense.'

Photo gallery: The top 10 veterinary schools in America, according to U.S. News

U.S. News & World Report ranks programs for the first time since 2011.

Front Desk Disasters, Episode 3: Dude looks like a lady

Everyone's favorite receptionist is at it again. Would you handle this situation differently?

Video: Flea hideouts in the house

Parasitology expert Michael Dryden, DVM, MS, PhD, reveals prime hideouts for fleas—and gives tips to clear them out of clients' homes for good.

Veterinarians: Your clients are going to Google with these cat questions

You might be surprised by what your clients are researching. Plus, get an educational client handout.