Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald: We are teachers

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Nov 10, 2008
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We are teachers

Veterinarians are teachers, and not just those of us at universities or in government jobs. For most of us, a large part of our day is spent connecting, lecturing, and educating. We popularize science for our clients. We explain medicine and surgery in English, a long way from the scientific nomenclature and jargon that we use with each other. We show clients how to care for their animal companions. We teach them how to protect their animals and prevent disease. We are duty bound to educate the public about pressing animal health issues. It is part of our oath and a great part of what we were charged to do upon graduation. Our role in public education is a sacred and never-ending duty. To do it right, we must keep learning and re-educating ourselves.

Still, why stop with ourselves and our clients? Why not foster the intellectual growth of our staff? Are you helping your associate doctors, technicians, and front desk staff to continue to grow, learn, and acquire new skills and techniques? Do you encourage your staff to pursue continuing education by attending in-house and veterinary society training meetings? Do you encourage them to publish?

There is a common saying that applies here, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Train your staff. Encourage them to attend local and regional meetings, and praise them when they obtain new skills. Create a work environment in which people are receptive to new ideas and able to explore reasonable alternatives. Don’t be married to outdated technology. Listen to your staff when they return from a continuing education session. Find out what they learned and encourage them to share it with other staff members. Populate your staff with vital, active people. The thirst for knowledge is contagious. Recommit yourself!

My father used to say, “If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t more people happy?” Take the time to reinvigorate your staff. The effort you make will come back to you many times over. Keep an open mind and learn from them, too! Often, we can learn a lot by shutting up. No one ever learns while they are talking. Help your staff be all they can by believing in them, by teaching them, and by investing in them. You won’t be disappointed.

See you next week, Kev