Establish a veterinary conference protocol

Establish a veterinary conference protocol

Oct 29, 2004

When you are attending a conference paid for by your hospital, your goal should be to learn as much as you can to share with the rest of the team. Although it is perfectly acceptable to take advantage of the amenities available, such as local attractions or restaurants, that's not the reason you are attending the meeting. You are there to learn, and you cannot be at your best after partying until 2 a.m.

Just as your clients watch you and judge you according to your dress, speech and mannerisms, your teammates and colleagues do, too. If you want your co-workers or boss to respect you when you get back home, you need to be on your best behavior. Inappropriate dress and deportment implies that you don't care about your clients' pets or concerns. In the same way, staying out half the night at a conference implies that you don't care what others think about you and that having fun comes before the good of the clinic or the team.

It doesn't matter if you agree with the philosophy, because it's the way things work in the real world. You don't get respect for sitting in the back of the room, dressing down or staying out late. You get it by showing up on time, listening intently, making sure your boss or team leaders know you are interested and involved -- just like at work. If you choose not to do these things, just don't expect extra points during your next job review. Also, remember who's paying your way.

If more than one staff member is attending, be a mentor. Help newer staff members get the most out of their seminar experiences. If you are the only one at an entire seminar, or a particular lecture, you are expected to bring what you've learned back to the group.

Much of the benefit of any conference comes in sharing what you have learned. You will usually find the "A" students hanging out somewhere immediately after the day's lectures, discussing what they've learned and deciding how to implement it when they get back home. Want to be seen as a leader at work? Make sure you're in on these discussions.

Schedule a meeting once you return to work to discuss topics while they are fresh. The sooner you schedule the meeting, the more each individual, and the clinic, will benefit from what you've learned. If you have specific goals and plans from the meeting, be sure to write them down. Goals put in writing are much more likely to be achieved. Put in a callback to remind yourself to go back to your notes later on, or add your new goals to your next performance evaluation.