Simple forms can help train new hires

Apr 19, 2005

So, you have found the perfect person to fill the position of veterinarian (or technician, client service representative). Now starts the training phase. It really does not matter if the person is new to veterinary medicine or a 20-year veteran, there is always a training period. Every clinic has its own style and ways of doing things, and your operation is no different.

Assign a "mentor" to each new employee for guidance. The mentor acts as a teacher for the trainee throughout the training period (60-90 days). It is perfectly acceptable to have two mentors. It's a good idea to make sure that whenever the trainee is on the clock, there is a mentor working as well. We encourage all team members to be active in the training phase, but the mentor(s) are ultimately responsible for making sure they are learning tasks at an appropriate speed and the correct method for your hospital.

We use a task list donning the headings: Show, Do and Master. Take basic jobs for each area of the hospital and break them down. Some examples might include: setting up a fecal, setting up an ear smear, packing a surgical pack, answering the telephone, preparing a written estimate or on vaccine protocols. The mentor then goes through the checklist and sees that the person has mastered each task.

The first column on the list is the "show" column. The trainee is shown and described a procedure step-by-step. This teaches both auditory and visual people (not to mention it helps to refresh the rest of the team again).

Once a task has been shown, it is initialed and dated by the mentor.

Next the trainee is challenged to "do" the task. At this stage, the trainee performs the task while being observed and coached. Again, the list is initialed and dated by the mentor.

Finally, there is the "master" column. I prefer to have mentors sign off on this column. The trainee must perform the task without any coaching or questions. If the mentor observes a flawless performance, then the trainee is considered a master and needs no direct supervision while performing this task.

Our goal is to have the master column completed within 30 days. Realize that there are always those dreaded gray areas that get overlooked or impossible to write down so it's safer to keep the training period around 60 to 90 days.

All trainees are encouraged to ask any team member why certain procedures are performed. The team is not allowed to answer "because that it is just the way we do it here!" Each team member (whether they have been here six months or 30 years) better know the method (justifiable or not) to our madness.

With a mentor and checklist in hand, you will soon have a valuable new team member who is productive and fits in with your hospital's style.