Why Continued Education Courses are so Great

With NAVC week here, a former attendee and now speaker gives her thoughts on why CEs are so inspiring.

At this moment, I am boarding an airplane very early in the morning to head to Orlando and my speaking gig at 2016 North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) Conference. Maybe some of you will be there! Going to a continued education (CE) event for me now is a bit different than it was when I was in practice — i.e., going FOR CE instead of going to PRESENT a CE. I look back at those days fondly. I was always excited to go somewhere new and soak in some good information. 

The first time I went to NAVC was with my boss at the time, and I was ready to absorb as many lectures as possible. Funny story: The first night, the hotel’s fire alarm went off. Oh my god, it was loud!  Just like you do at home, I jumped up and tried to find the apparatus to disconnect to save me from that SOUND.  (That doesn’t work in a hotel, by the way.) Then I tried to call down to the front desk to see if it was for real — yeah, nobody answered in the midst of the chaos. Then my boss comes knocking at the door. I was still in my pajamas, and frankly, I didn’t really want to vacate my room and go stand outside in the chilly 2 a.m. air (it was a cold year for Florida). 

So I told him, “Go find out if there’s really a fire, and then come back and get me if so.” I don’t know WHY I thought that made any sense!  And, if the fire had been real, I would not have blamed him if he didn’t come back up to rescue me.  Fortunately, as I suspected, it was kids monkeying around with the fire alarm.  Good thing for me, huh?

We were there for the entire conference, and I filled every single day, every single hour, with lecture after lecture after lecture.  By the end of the fourth day, my mind was about to bust open! I even took my notes back to my hotel room, and started this humongous list of things ‘to do’ based on what I had learned.  I requested a meeting with my boss to go over some things, BEFORE we left Florida and returned to our busy clinic lives.

He was not thrilled, but he humored me as I rattled off page after page of things I thought we should do in the practice. I understand now, years later, that it wasn’t that he didn’t like my ideas necessarily, but implementing anything new is a challenge.  Sure enough, we went back home at the end of it, and I can’t say that much of anything changed. So, why do we go to CE anyway? 

Practical Advice That Might Actually Inspire Change in Your Veterinary Clinic

I encounter that question a lot now that I am a speaker. I lecture oftentimes to managers, technicians and receptionists who may not have it within their “power” or position to make changes in their veterinary practices. They often want my advice on making change happen. Typically, my advice is find what really motivates your boss, and then put whatever your idea is into that context. 

So for a boss that is really big on excellent client service, state the idea in those terms such as, “if we expand our appointment times just 5 minutes longer, we can better address the client’s needs.” If the bottom line profit is your boss’s main thing, then how about, “if we expand our appointment times, we have more time to talk about test and products that their pet may need and they may spend more money.” You get my point, hopefully.

Aside from what you take home is the benefit of how you feel when you are at CE.  It is rejuvenating, exciting and invigorates you again.  It shows you what’s new out there (always spend time in the exhibit hall), and perhaps even new paths for your career or position. “Learning new things” has been identified as a satisfiers for everyone on the team, so go learn new things, and bring back that great feeling to your practice and your life.

And watch out for those fake fire alarms!

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