How to juggle a veterinary job and training


I'm a receptionist, but I also do a lot of assisting the doctor and technicians. My biggest frustration is trying to learn tasks at the back of the clinic that would make me more helpful while always being interrupted by the phone and walk-ins. How do I balance the work?-Not dropping the ball

Dear Juggler:

Kudos to you for wanting to be cross-trained and be of more value to your clinic! I wish all employees had your attitude.

It's a constant challenge to balance training with day-to-day operations. For people to learn, they need to read it, see it and do it, so we need to allow time for all of these things. You can read what you need to read while still answering the phone in between, but the other two parts of your learning need special attention. You must carve out time in the week that's exclusively for training.

Oftentimes training seems like it would take weeks, but you can make huge progress in a short time if it's concentrated. Ask your owner for two hours a week for 12 weeks and create a curriculum of what you will cover in those 12 weeks. List the new set of skills you will develop and how those skills will help the clinic.

Typically owners are inclined to release resources if they can see the actual value or return on investment. I hope this helps, and good luck!


Got a question? Ask Shawn.

Maybe you're tired of babysitting your team members. Perhaps you're looking for strategies to beat a bully. Shawn can help. Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, is a member of the Firstline and Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory boards and CEO of McVey Management Solutions in Austin, Texas. Email your questions for him to, then visit to read McVey's advice on other hot topics.

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