Do you need more training?

Do you need more training?

Paige Phillips

Paige Phillips
"It's important for team members to take initiative and show they're interested in learning. Doctors and technicians often tell me they're much more willing to teach team members who show initiative and ask questions."

Seventy percent of Firstline readers say they need in-house training to take the next step in their career, according to the 2007 Firstline Career Path Study. And about 68 percent say they also require formal training to grow in their jobs.

Figure 1
Knowing you need more training is a great thing. And the best way to make sure you get the training you need is to set career goals.

"Start by building a plan for what you'd like to achieve in the next few years," says Sheila Grosdidier, BS, RVT, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and a consultant with VMC Inc. in Evergreen Colo. "Find a bench somewhere and take 15 minutes to think about what would make you feel happy and fulfilled at work. Then start writing down anything that comes to mind." Once you've written your list of goals, she says, you'll brainstorm the actions you need to take to make your dreams a reality.

Figure 2
"Technicians often tell me they've wondered what it would be like to work in a referral practice," Grosdidier says. "They know they need to build their skills to get there. So I tell them, 'Let's get a job description for the position you want and see what it takes.' Perhaps they can volunteer their time and learn some additional skills or take some training online."

Paige Phillips, a Firstline board member and director of nursing at Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas in Cary, N.C., says her team sets training goals regularly. New team members set goals two or three times the first year, she says, because they're learning so much. "After that, we set goals annually. Perhaps they need continuing education for a specific technical procedure or maybe they're interested in cross-training in other departments."

Who pays?

About 35 percent of Firstline readers say their practice will pay for formal training, while 55 percent report their practice will pay for in-house training. So is it fair to expect your practice to pay for your training?

"Yes," says Grosdidier. "In today's market, clients expect more. Their desire for services for their pets has never been greater. The only way we're going to meet their needs is to employ qualified team members."

Besides, she adds, it's a great investment. "You get a $4 return on every $1 you spend on training," she says.

Phillips' practice conducts regular in-house training and offers an annual budget for continuing education (CE). Often, she says, team members carry over their CE allotment and attend a national conference every other year.

If you're interested in attending CE outside your practice, Grosdidier recommends approaching your boss and asking what it would take to attend a meeting. Discuss skills you'd like to learn that will help make your practice more profitable and agree on training that benefits you and the practice.

"There's so much CE out there," Grosdidier says. "You're only limited by your belief in where you can go and how you're going to get there."