Author note: it was good to hear the questions about this innovative work particularly as regards addressing the learning needs of staff who are often neglected and as regards the potential for further adult-centred learning in this context.
Fitzmaurice, B. Riverside Veterinary Care Ltd., Abergavenny and Robbé, I.J. Memorial University, Newfoundland
Continuing professional development (CPD) sessions for veterinary reception staff should be enjoyable, meet individuals’ needs and practices’ needs. However these sessions can: be hard to source, difficult to implement in busy practices, deal in generalities, fail to benefit individuals and practices’ business.
Our approach involved an external facilitator with professional education competencies holding three interactive CPD sessions over three months. The topics of the sessions were based on staff identified needs before, during and after each session and on the practice needs ascertained by the veterinary directors.
The initial topics included difficult clients, late payments, and bereavement. The methods included assuring confidentiality, using the communication skills curriculum project (https://sites.google.com/site/nuvacs/) with modified scenarios, and feedback.
Staff were reassured by the confidentiality within the sessions and by only anonymised information being conveyed to the directors by the facilitator hence they spoke with more openness. The practice gained specific feedback about opportunities for improvements e.g. lone working policies, dispensing and follow-up procedures, communications within the practice and induction issues. Staff development occurred through role playing in the scenarios, interactive discussions, and self-determined learning between sessions. Other learning needs e.g. credit regulations, complaints, emerged and the staff saw the directors responding.
Neighbouring practices could hold joint CPD sessions to reduce costs and the impact on rotas, and to obtain specific, anonymised feedback from a facilitator. Veterinary education institutions could provide a facilitator which would also improve communications between primary care and secondary referral centres. Our approach involves staff whose CPD needs can be neglected.