Ask Emily: Do I need a monthly staff meeting?

Firstline, Firstline July/August 2020, Volume 16, Issue 4

My veterinary team is smart and we’re really busy, but ongoing education is vital to practicing good medicine. So, are monthly staff education meetings are a necessity?

Our team at and Firstline magazine asked practice manager Emily Shiver to answer your questions about life in practice for managers, technicians, assistants, client service receptionists and more. Got a question for her? Email us at

Q: I manage a small, very busy veterinary practice. I’d like to set up at least one all-hands staff educational meeting per month, but some doctors and team members are pushing back. Do I need this meeting?

A: For me, this is a resounding yes!

Staff meetings are your chance to reach your team, nurture culture and teamwork, provide invaluable training and include everyone in the plans and success of the practice.

Some people will say they don’t have the time, some staff won’t be on board, and maybe you don’t have a solid plan to lead them right now. But your team will feed off your excitement about this chance to listen, inform and inspire. Involve them!

Here are some dos and don’ts for launching monthly staff meetings in a veterinary hospital.


  • Map out meeting topics for the entire year. Not too hard—you only have to come up with 12 topics! Let the staff weigh in on what they’d like to learn.
  • Ask hospital leaders or other team members who may be passionate about a particular topic to present. You don’t have to be the educator at every single one! Make sure you’re there to support and give guidance.
  • Assign seats for the meetings so the team can learn to start sharing with the entire team, not just their friends.
  • Incorporate interactive table activities to encourage teamwork.
  • Set staff meetings for two hours. This length has worked well worked for me.


  • Waste time with staff meetings about new products you don’t plan to carry.
  • Talk negatively about staff meetings.
  • Dismiss team members' ideas to improve meetings without first discussing and considering them.
  • Make the topic of every meeting super heavy—try to balance them. Provide interactive fun activities when appropriate.

Embrace educational staff meetings in your veterinary practice, and make them events that everyone starts looking forward to. Once implemented by inspired colleagues, you could see big effects in just a couple months. Every month you don’t have a staff meeting is a growth opportunity missed.

Emily Shiver, CVPM, CCFP, is practice manager at Cleveland Heights Animal Hospital in Lakeland, Florida.

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