There is an overwhelming amount of learning to be had!
Your Continuing Education (CE) choices include, but are not limited to: Online courses, state conventions, industry publications, powered-up weekend programs, wet-labs, national conferences, and much more. Truly, there are so many ways for veterinarians, technicians, and managers to maintain their CE. Licensed veterinarians, certified practice managers, and credentialed veterinary technicians may be required to maintain CE and keep records of courses. How do you choose and is there a method to the process?
Let’s delve into the options, how to prioritize and take into consideration a CE budget.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you start paying for fees and planning for your course of action.
1. How many CE credits do you need to maintain your credentialing? How long is the credentialing period (yearly, every two years, every three years)?
2. What topics are you interested in?
3. What type of allowance or benefit does your veterinarian allow for? What is reimbursed (travel, lodging, time off)?
4. How do you prefer to learn: in a classroom, by yourself, reading and testing, or are there other options?
5. How much time do you have to take classes? An evening, a weekend, an entire week?
6. Finally, what are your overall career goals and how does CE fit into the big picture? Are you interested in becoming a Diplomate, VTS, or CVPM?
Now that you have a few tools and guidelines to work from, here are a few links to a short list of options available to you. Seriously, there are literally hundreds of choices! This will help to get the ball rolling:
1. Veterinary Information Network (VIN) www.vin.com
2. Veterinary Support Personnel Network (VSPN) (online courses) www.vspn.org
3. CSU online continuing education http://www.online.colostate.edu/onlinedistance/vetmedonline/
4. VetMedTeam http://www.ivis.org/shortcourses/vetmedteam/toc.asp
5. Life Learn http://www.lifelearn.com/for-veterinary-teams/
State and National Conventions
1. Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians (as a state technician example)http://www.cacvt.com/continuingeducation
2. Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (as a state veterinary example) http://www.colovma.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=296
3. North American Veterinary Conference (largest veterinary conference in the WORLD!) http://navc.com/navc-conference.html
4. International Animal Association of Hospice and Palliative Care http://iaahpc.org/events.shtml
1. American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine http://www.acvim.org/websites/forum2011/index.php?p=460
2. Veterinary Hospital Managers Association https://m360.vhma.org/event.aspx?eventID=48326
3. Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians http://avdt.us/events/ce0612.asp
Industry Publications offering CE credits
1. North American Veterinary Technician Association (four CE credit articles in each issue of TNJ) https://navta.net/membership/continuing-education
2. Diagnostic Edge (monthly online newsletter, Idexx offering CE credits)http://www.idexx.com/view/xhtml/en_us/smallanimal/education/reference-library/diagnostic-edge.jsf?conversationId=1618148
3. Compendium http://www.vetlearn.com/compendium/
4. Veterinary Technician https://www.vetlearn.com/veterinary-technician/
Unique Learning Experiences
1. Local Referral centers (Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital, as an example) http://www.wheatridgeanimal.com/vets/ce_seminar.html
2. Lunch-n-Learns through industry leaders and their field educators (VPI Pet Insurance, as an example)http://vets.petinsurance.com/Vets-Home/Education.aspx
Now that you have an idea of your choices, what can you afford? How much time can you take off?
Let’s consider Sara, a seasoned veterinary technician whose long-term goal is to become the veterinary clinic’s Hospice Care Coordinator. She is obviously passionate about helping pets through the final transition and equally passionate about assisting the pet parents and family through their grief. She decides to sit down with her manager to discuss her career goals and line out a continuing education plan. She determines she has an adequate CE allowance (5 years with the practice) and can also pull funds from her professional merit allowance ($100.00). When it is all said and done, she has $500.00 from the veterinary hospital and she feels she can comfortably add an additional $300.00 to the cause. With $800.00 to work with, she begins her research.
She lands on the IAAHPC site and feels this organization’s mission meets her needs and is offering a conference in Denver. Bonus, her cousin lives in Denver, too!!
She determines it is in her best interest to become a member ($75.00), which actually saves her $25.00 when registering for the convention! Registration cost is $225.00 for two full days and $25.00 for the veterinary technician workshop on Sunday. She will receive 16 hours of CE credits (enough for the year).
Her flights are going to cost her $290.00 round trip. She is deciding whether to stay with her cousin; however, a room near the convention will be approximately $99.00/night (when she explains she is affiliated with the IAAHPC conference-blocked rooms). The transportation to and from DIA is free. She can either sign up for the meals being offered during the classes or she will dine at nearby restaurants (within walking distance).
This is a doable plan, costing $815.00, plus she will spend time with her nearby family.
**Speak with your tax accountant for deductions and required receipts.
When identifying your priorities, be sure to consider short- and long-term goals. Ask yourself how the course might benefit the pet, pet owner, veterinary hospital, and individual team member.
In Sara’s case, the CE she decided upon was a win/win scenario. The pet benefits from her added knowledge in hospice pet care. The family wins because she will have acquired new tools in communication, empathy, and sympathy. The veterinary hospital will benefit in that a new, desired service has been added. AND Sara wins, she is following her passion and improving her professional skills.
How do you determine your CE courses? Is there a rhyme or reason? What is your CE allowance?
Yours in continuing education, RR