See you at the CE
Whether accomplished at conferences, online or during lunch and learns, continuing education is important for skillset development and career advancement.
Do you look at continuing education as a growth opportunity, or is it perceived as a necessary evil? Those of us in this profession for the long haul generally look at CE as a learning opportunity and a path to enhancing our knowledge, skills and abilities. The fact that you are reading this article is an indication that you value continued learning.
Let’s look a little deeper into where the opportunities lie and where they might take you.
Charting your career path is the first step in determining the CE or educational offerings that will be necessary for you to achieve, enhance and maintain that direction. Whether you choose medicine, management or a combination, it’s vital that you have a plan that will maximize your learning potential. How much time can you devote to the learning process, and how much money are you willing and able to invest? How much time is needed for you to reach your goals?
Education and enhanced training come at a cost — time, financial, physical and emotional commitments. What’s important is to have a plan that addresses the challenges.
You Have Many Choices
The avenues for CE have vastly improved over the years. Choose the venue that resonates with your learning style, schedule, career objectives and budget. The options for quality CE are numerous.
- Classroom curriculum: This likely will require time away from the practice during the workweek. This option is typically subject, topic or credential specific as well as comprehensive and hands-on. A flexible schedule will allow for regular attendance and participation.
- Distance learning: An online curriculum might be a good fit for you. It allows for schedule flexibility and in most cases is self-paced.
- National conferences: The session choices at large veterinary conferences can be overwhelming. You get the opportunity to attend lectures, workshops and skill-specific wet labs. Make the most of your time and choose the topics, labs and sessions that align with your learning objectives. Early registration is important for hands-on sessions, which typically fill up fast. Among the national conferences are VMX, which is hosted by the North American Veterinary Community, publisher of Today’s Veterinary Business; CVC/Fetch; WVC; the American Animal Hospital Association’s Connexity; and the American Veterinary Medical Association. Large meetings serve the CE needs of veterinarians, nurses and managers. Travel and lodging expenses are usually involved.
- State conferences: Hosted by state veterinary medical associations, these smaller meetings offer a wide variety of topics and speakers.
- Veterinary Hospital Managers Association: VHMA’s conference and regional workshops are perfect CE venues for anyone seeking a management career or certified veterinary practice manager (CVPM) certification. VHMA membership offers access to a variety of educational resources, including webinars.
- National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America: The organization is a valuable CE and networking resource. In addition, this is your avenue to further your education and achieve certifications in veterinary technician specialties (VTS).
- Local and state technician meetings: Get involved with your local technician association. Many have regular meetings and CE offerings. This is a great opportunity for networking and staying connected.
- Industry publications and journals: Take advantage of great resources and timely information in small bites. Several publications are available monthly.
- Lunch and learns: These in-clinic events are frequently product or service related, and they’re great opportunities to learn about what’s new.
- Webinars: Some are subscription or fee based, but many free sessions are available.
CE Is Likely Mandatory
Subject matter should be a serious consideration as you plan your CE journey. If your goal is to enhance your skillset or seek advancement opportunities, find CE offerings that will add to what you already know. Learn something new. Whether it is a new concept or a new skill, both will help you to excel in your daily work.
Most state licensing boards require credentialed technicians to participate in regular CE in order to maintain licensure. The requirements differ by state, so understand what is required for your locale and credentialing period. Most states will allow in-person and web-based learning as well as a combination of medicine and management hours.
Registry of Approved Continuing Education (RACE) CE is usually required for licensure. RACE is a program provided by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. CE providers will issue a certificate of attendance or completion. Hold on to the documentation.
In addition to state licensure requirements, a VTS or CVPM designation will require additional hours that need to be documented. The biennial renewal requirement for a CVPM is a hefty 48 hours of approved management CE. Maximize your time and coordinate your learning opportunities to overlap the requirements for both credentials, if possible.
Where does your employer stand on the subject of CE? The wise employer will support the team’s efforts. This will require a commitment, typically registration fees, travel, lodging and time away from the practice. CE allowances and support should be part of every fringe-benefits package.
Everyone benefits when CE is a priority of the practice. Strive to be a lifelong learner and remember that the more you learn, the more you earn.
Getting Technical columnist Sandy Walsh is a practice management consultant, speaker, writer and instructor for Patterson Veterinary University.