Continuing education is a necessity for veterinary professionals who have dedicated their careers to improving the health and wellness of pets in their community.
While maintaining licenses or certifications is required for many professionals, your continuing education choices can help you broaden your practice areas, improve career prospects, and develop an expertise that establishes you as a subject matter expert with clients, colleagues, and peers. Much more than just staying current, your education choices can help you rise to new personal and professional heights.
A Career-Long Commitment to Education
As with many medical careers, continuing education–commonly referred to as “CE”— is designed to keep professionals engaged with the latest developments in their industry and reinforce the fundamental rules, regulations, and practices that go into caring for patients.
A minimum amount of continuing education credits is often stipulated by either the licensure or certification board that regulates your position, if not both. While there’s no issue with taking more continuing education than required by these bodies, failing to meet your obligations in a timely manner can result in decertification, suspension of your license, and an inability to offer your professional services until you’re restored to good standing.
While most skilled veterinary professionals are required to meet a minimum threshold of CE credits annually or prior to renewing a multi-year certification or license, many veterinary services providers opt to go beyond the minimum. This can be for a variety of reasons:
- Staying Up to Date on Emerging Care Trends – Healthcare is an ever-evolving field, with new veterinary equipment, techniques, and technology offering better and more advanced animal health and wellness options. Continuing education helps keep your practice current, ensuring you can offer clients the best possible treatment options for the pets they love.
- Keep Informed About Changes to Veterinary Laws, Rules, and Policies – Just as veterinary care itself evolves, so do the laws and rules pet care professionals practice under. An important part of continuing education is learning how to maintain compliance in a changing legal landscape.
- Career Advancement – Some providers use continuing education to learn new and more advanced skills to pursue specialty certifications, attain another degree, or learn skills that will take them from the exam room to a boardroom as an entrepreneur, franchisor, or commercial consultant.
- Bringing New Services to Your Community – Continuing education is a great chance to broaden your practice’s offerings by learning new skills, treatments, and methods. From doing more extensive work with your veterinary surgical equipment to adding specialized care offerings to meet the needs of your community, your CE can be a path to new revenue streams while bringing more services to local pet owners.
- Professional Respect – As a trusted pet healthcare provider in your community, you’re uniquely positioned as a role model for your staff, pet owners, other medical providers, and competing veterinary peers. Continuing education helps reinforce your reputation as a caring authority in pet health and wellness.
Because continuing education is so important to veterinary professionals, you need to make it a priority for your clinic and staff. This helps your practice provide better care and ensures your establishment and staff are compliant with rules and regulations.
- Know Requirements for You and Your Staff – If you’re a supervisor, you need to understand who needs CE, the threshold they must meet, and their due dates. While the responsibility technically falls on the license or certification holder, you hold final responsibility for the staff working under your supervision during patient care.
- Make Compliance Mandatory – Go beyond making your expectation of 100% compliance known by making CE mandatory for continued employment. You cannot stress enough how vital it is to the operations of your practice.
- Keep Detailed Records – Good records help protect you from liability, ensures CE compliance among staff members, and helps you identify practice opportunities to add services or specializations.
- Proactively Engage All Personnel – Look for opportunities to make continuing education easier. From paying full or partial wages for CE time to funding needed classes or rewarding early completion of their CE obligations, promoting continuing education saves you time and invests your staff in improved patient care.
Continuing education may be an obligation, but that doesn’t make it a chore. From meeting obligations to taking your practice in new and exciting directions, continuing education is a vital part of providing the best possible veterinary care to the animals in your community.
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