Be ready for your boards
"He who labors diligently need never despair, for all things are accomplished by diligence and labor."
And so it is with staff and personnel education. Persistence in education is a key to veterinary success. Continuing education is crucial for excellence in animal medical care and a hallmark of a thriving practice. But we all know it's not easy.
With so much going on — pills to give, calls to answer, calls to return, maintenance issues to deal with, the new payroll tax assessments to calculate and on and on — it can feel like we just can't squeeze time for learning into our busy days.For example, consider the requirements for clinics certified by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). It takes hours and hours for team members to learn the 900 AAHA standards. And it takes a good chunk of the full three years between voluntary inspections for the entire staff to appreciate and start modeling the AAHA messages and lessons.
It takes hours and hours of teaching time to review the essentials of the clotting cascade, remember the functions of the 24 cranial nerves, the functions of diuretics and the lessons of chemotherapy efficacy — and the accompanying OSHA rules.
Then there's management leadership and human resources news. Team members want to know whether they can opt out of the new $150-per-month payroll deduction for long-term care.
And in all the commotion, there's an ever-growing need for better communication, improved networking and, yes, dissemination of information, which comes with better education and time to reflect with colleagues on workday experiences.
I'm completely convinced that we could close the practice to the public's pets and spend the entire 40-hour workweek busy with teaching, reviewing educational materials and treatment protocols and completing business duties
But we must find time for education and team meetings. Good consensus management requires a meeting of the minds every day so small but growing side issues don't intersect and get in the way of patient care. We need to assemble to share issues that pop up, but we all know we can't organize team meetings every day.
Oh, so what to do? The answer is the "education station." I usually hate signs — but this is the place for them. The education station facilitates team discussion when you just don't have time for a full team meeting.
Your boards today
We still need corkboards, pin-up boards and message boards. The old-fashioned bulletin board is alive and well. Here are some bulletin boards and message exchanges you may already have around your hospital:
Your brand-new board
But now for the most important board — and likely a new one for your hospital: the education station.
This area is fun, full of information and packed with educational material.
Where can we post news about current events?
Clippings from the New England Journal of Medicine?
Veterinary journal clippings?
New protocols and standards to focus on, from AAHA or other organizations?
Details about a new service offered at the clinic?
Media alerts about insecticides?
The education station material is fresh, timely and inspiring, a welcome break from other bulletin boards that might change only slightly. (How often will the maintenance duties be changed? And how exciting is that? Not very).
Think of the education station like collecting change. Thanks to a few coins collected every day, hundreds of dollars are eventually earned. Think of this when posting information on the education station. Those small bits of information can add up to a feast of knowledge.
Building your new board
Here is how to create and maintain your own education station:
Who can't afford a new corkboard and a little clinic wall real estate? Let your new education station become a fun, compelling, inexpensive addition to your team education efforts.
Dr. Riegger, dipl. ABVP, is the chief medical officer at Northwest Animal Clinic Hospital and Specialty Practice. Contact him by phone and fax at (505) 898-0407, by e-mail at Riegger@aol.com
For a complete list of articles by Dr. Riegger, visit http://dvm360.com/riegger