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Sometimes you have to take a trip to realize your practice isn’t going anywhere.
That revelation hit home for Al Schwartz , DVM, owner-operator of Moorpark Veterinary Hospital in Southern California, during a cruise that combined vacation travel with continuing education. He realized his business had stagnated because he had the wrong person in the role of practice manager.
“Change is always scary,” Dr. Schwartz says. “I was very grateful to get the management insight to make the necessary change, otherwise the practice would have continued to suffer.”
Schwartz has attended two Seminars at Sea programs–one cruise to Australia and New Zealand last year, and the other in the Caribbean in 2002. In both cases, he says, he learned a lot from the scheduled programs, “But there was also a lot of learning that went on outside the lecture halls.”
Creating a relaxed atmosphere that fosters weeklong learning is the whole idea behind seminars that mix CE with R&R, says Thomas E. Catanzaro, DVM, MHA, FACHE, Diplomate, American College of Heathcare Executives, and sponsor of Seminars at Sea.
Before and after the scheduled presentations, attendees get opportunities to interact and ask questions–at breakfast, by the pool, even during shore excursions.
“It’s not a static pitch,” Dr. Catanzaro says. “Whatever the audience members want, whatever they ask, that’s the information they can get.”
Dr. Schwartz calls it a “constant percolation of ideas,” adding that because the informal groups are smaller, the learning can be a lot more intense.
Sometimes learning can even take place during a rock-climbing session or on a ski slope. Each March, the California Veterinary Medical Assn. holds its spring seminar in Yosemite National Park, and each year it quickly sells out.
Half-day morning seminars leave the afternoons free for hiking, sightseeing and information-sharing between presenters and attendees.
So, does the fresh air stimulate fresh thinking?
“I always come back with information I can use and can follow-up on,” Schwartz says of his experiences with vacation seminars.
“When you go to some conventions, you’re lucky if see the same person twice in five days,” he says. “At a smaller seminar–with 50 or 60 people, even up to 100–you really get to know each other. You can develop lifelong friendships.”
Schwartz says he still corresponds with colleagues he met during trips that mixed CE with vacation fun.
“Those friendships,” he says, “can be the best part of the experience.”
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