Today's Veterinary Business

DEC-JAN 2017

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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33 December 2017/January 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM proficient and confident" as its No. 1 strategic goal — emphasis placed on "career-ready." The vast majority of veterinary graduates wind up in some form of primary care clinical practice, so the most important con- sideration is how we better prepare future colleagues for career readi- ness, proficiency and confidence? An idea (spoiler: not original): Focus on exam rooms and hands- on clinical skills, communication instruction, real-world primary care clinical interactions and practice management course work. Simple. Good news. New veterinary schools require core curriculum training in communication, clinical skills, practice management and clinical rotations in real-world classroom settings. It seems as though academia is discovering value in moving students out of the classroom and into the exam room. Our future colleagues are graduating more confident and practice-ready, having spent more time in exam rooms. What Did You Learn? A quick rant: We, as vet- erinary professionals, are committed lifelong learn- ers; it's in the Veterinarian's Oath. We know that our education didn't stop the day we received our licens- es. To ensure that, we are all competent and up to date, and our state veterinary medical examining boards are charged with assuring the public of our ability to prac- tice at a minimum standard. State boards (on which I was privileged to serve) do this by means of requiring us to complete approved continu- ing education course work. So, some vet professionals travel to a distractingly attractive desti- nation like Las Vegas, Orlando, San Diego, D.C., Hawaii — you get the picture. Once we are there, a wide variety of topics relevant to main- taining our competence is offered. We attend (or not, if the pool/beach/casino call) cours- es offered in dark rooms, amid a sea of hard straight-back chairs during which brilliant minds give 45-minute PowerPoint presentations. I'd contest that anyone might have a tough time gleaning all the knowledge offered in this circumstance. If we attended, did we in fact learn anything? Did our behavior change upon returning to our prac- tice, our exam/classrooms? Worse yet, which lectures do we typically choose to attend? Most often, we pick topics we are fascinated by and that correspond with areas in which we have high competency. As you might imag- ine, we have a telling tendency to skirt dull topics. Do we approach our profes- sional development by means of a gap analysis — comparing our actual performance to desired per- formance — and by intentionally attending lectures that help us fill in our professional gaps? Do we ac- tively focus on the lacking areas? Do we attend lectures related to topics that when seen in our practice we generally defer to a colleague? (For me, it's reptile cases.) Do we regu- larly get out of our comfort zones and challenge ourselves to tackle something we're not good at? Have we developed any new skills or ser- vice offerings lately? I love to attend lectures on a variety of subjects, and there are a number of lectures I should attend in recognition of my gaps. Call me guilty. Where We Go From Here Recently, I heard a striking quote by the late Alvin Toffler, a futurist and author of the 1970 book "Future Shock": "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who can- not read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn." Learn, unlearn and relearn — the hard part is unlearning. The learn- ing part is easy. The obvious solution is one I'm not ready to sign up for. (Color me hypocrite.) It's periodic recerti- fication. Every few years we would complete an assessment to demon- strate our ongoing competence and commitment to lifelong learning. The American Board of Veterinary Prac- titioners recertifies every 10 years. Kudos! ABVP-certified veterinarians are walking the walk. Am I ready to sign up for recertification? Heck no. I still have NAVLE nightmares. (Ac- tually, I'm from the pre-NAVLE era, but the nightmares are the same.) In the meantime, it's up to each of us to embrace lifelong learning and treat practice as one big lifelong classroom experience. The good news is that life is an open-book test. Fortunately, ours is an honorable profession, and the vast majority of us love to learn. I may even attend a few reptile lectures this year. Or not. A takeaway: Try renaming your exam rooms as classrooms for one month. See what happens. My practice is going to try it. I'm betting good things transpire. Let me know what happens. Creative Disruption columnist Dr. Bob Lester is chief medical officer of WellHaven PetHealth, a former practice owner and a founding member of Banfield Pet Hospital and the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine. He serves on the North American Veterinary Community board of directors. It seems as though academia is discovering value in moving students out of the classroom and into the exam room. Our future colleagues are graduating more confident and practice-ready, having spent more time in exam rooms.

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