As veterinary managers go, I'm a PLANNER. While flying by the seat of my pants and treating unpredictable emergencies in the DoveLewis ER is fun, in every other area I need a PLAN. I like to set my expectations based on what I think the outcome will be. I don’t take disappointment well, so if I can manage those expectations and plan for what’s coming, then I’m a much easier person to deal with.
When I’m in a new situation I really appreciate people who give specific details and instructions. I try to remember this with newly hired members of our veterinary team, as well as clients, when they come into our veterinary hospital. To me, this is the purpose of structured training for all veterinary professionals. Everyone has expectations of how things are going to go at work, what their role is, how they carry that out, and who their support will come from. We also want to do those things without looking stupid. As employers and managers, we have an expectation of our employees and their ability to carry out their duties. We all owe it to each other to lay out those expectations and give each other the tools needed to do our jobs.
I had a horrifying experience in my first week in DoveLewis' ER (15 years ago!), standing and watching everyone furiously work on a hit-by-car dog. I was WAY too new to have any clue what to do, so I was retrieving supplies that people yelled for. The doctor looked right at me and told me to get set up for a chest tube.
"Uhhhh, what?" I'd never even heard of that and had no idea what to set up. I was not only terrified of what I didn’t know, but also terrified by everything else I was realizing I'd never even heard of! Enter textbooks, questions, watching "Emergency Vets" on Animal Planet... Anything and everything to expose myself to what I didn’t know, so that I could contribute to the team and at least meet some expectations.
Because of these experiences, when I became a manager I started writing something for new employees to take home and read through. This included medical information, hospital forms and how to use them, policies, etc. My goal was for a new employee to look through these things in a low-stress environment (ie. not during an emergency in ER) and feel a lot less stupid and lost than I did back in the day.
Next I developed skills lists and tests for different levels of technician training. Not only did it help me cover everything I need to while training, but the new employee now knows what exactly is expected of them. When they have a moment, they know what they should be learning and the questions they should be asking.
I realize I can never fully take away the sheer terror that accompanies the first days at a new veterinary job, but I can help. I also can’t fully remove the volume of work involved with training a new team member, but I can help. Organization and structure, while challenging and time consuming at first, will make your life so much easier as you move forward. And guess what? atdove.org is the product of my years of developing veterinary training organization and structure!
Take advantage of my anxiety and planning. Create confidence in your new employees and watch your current staff explore things they didn’t even know they didn’t know. Start a free trial right now and see what atdove.org provides for you and your veterinary team.