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Effective Training Programs
For any 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.
Although this newsletter is dedicated to the topics of safety in the workplace, the ideas
and suggestions in this issue are valid for any practice promotion or training program.
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
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
If you listen to the big names in business today - Drucker, Peters, Deming, Covey -
regardless of their obvious message, they have one thing in common: they all believe that
a well-trained, well- cared for staff is essential for success. Training is an investment
in the business not an expense.
Commitment Of Leadership
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 day's events.
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
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.
When the practice holds staff meetings or training sessions after hours or during other
"non-business hours" the staff will resent the intrusion into their personal
time. They also get the impression that the message (training) wasn't important enough to
take time away from the routine, so it's just another one of those boring, useless
meetings. However, by conducting training on "company time" the business is
sending the message that the topic is relevant and important.
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.
Check out our
sample training schedules!
More on safety training
The information on these pages is excerpted from
The Veterinary Safety & Health Digest,
Copyright 2003 Philip J. Seibert, Jr., CVT All Rights Reserved
No part of this publication may be reproduced for distribution without prior permission
from the publisher.