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Team building with vet techs

Publication
Article
dvm360dvm360 October 2022
Volume 53
Issue 10
Pages: 56

National Veterinary Technician Week can be the inspiration for creating a culture that supports individual growth all year

VectorMine / stock.adobe.com

VectorMine / stock.adobe.com

National Veterinary Technician Week (NVTW) was first celebrated in October 1993, and we’ve been honoring the contributions of technicians to veterinary medicine ever since. Although we have an entire week to praise technicians, it’s important to remember that a team cannot be built in 5 days: It is a long-term endeavor. NVTW applauds technicians and management alike for the success that teamwork confers on their practice. To make the yearly event more meaningful, here are a few fun, educational, and empowering activities we can do on a regular basis.

Daily

Words of the day: Every morning, a team member picks a word that is new to them or that everyone should know but may be using improperly and writes it on a white board. Under it, the rest of the staff can write what they think, or know, the word means. The real definition is later written down, and everyone can laugh, learn, or do both. This fun exercise promotes interaction and creativity.

Book of Things: You can place this journal in the common area of the hospital and head each page with a topic or question for people to consider at their leisure. Leave pens, markers, crayons, or anything else that allows them to creatively log their answers. Choose topics that encourage everyone to share personal interests or what they love about their work. This activity enhances memory and fosters collaboration and creativity. The journal also becomes something concrete to look at later to see how your team has grown.

Rounds: Rounds are an important clinical activity that determine how the day will go. Pick someone each day to do rounds, but first create a schedule so everyone is prepared. The person whose turn it is will talk about what is on the day’s schedule: what patients may be hospitalized and the care they will need. If specific doctors and technicians are assigned to work with one another, the rounder will announce that. This is a great way to bring the team together in the morning and promote a sense of ownership, build confidence, and establish flow.

Weekly

Led by a manager, judgment-free meetings should be held weekly to discuss the things that went well during the past week and those that did not. Everyone should feel free to speak about what didn’t work and what did. Including a short training or information that is relevant to observations made during the previous week’s meeting is highly productive.

Monthly

Because clinics are currently very busy, these end-of-the-month meetings are more important than ever. It is essential to set aside time for the whole clinic to take a breath, come together as a team, and acknowledge everybody’s efforts and successes. These meetings tend to focus on how to improve or correct a problem; however, doing that at the weekly meetings is more constructive and makes for a happier meeting at month’s end. The person leading the monthly discussion should prepare a few topics that are relevant to the practice and would improve the workflow, environment, or a procedure. All sessions should be positive in nature and adhere to these guidelines.

  1. Keep the meeting to 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Provide snacks or a meal, depending on when the meeting is held.
  3. Reserve the first 10 or 15 minutes for an icebreaker or group activity.
  4. Allow 15 to 20 minutes for the leader to announce the topics and open the discussion.
  5. Set aside 5 minutes for the leader to respond with action words and a solution.

All year

A key component of team building is investing in every person. The hospital as a whole and all its employees must have a learning and development program that will keep staff happy, healthy, and engaged. There’s no need to spend money on flying staff to a conference 5 states away when in-clinic education can be just as effective. Take advantage of online learning platforms, in-clinic sessions provided by vendors, and presentations delivered by team members. An environment that nurtures the team pushes individuals to improve their skills and contribute more to the hospital’s success.

Annually

After a year of team building, it’s appropriate to celebrate everyone’s efforts. Make no mistake: individual and team development is itself a reward and can be enjoyed all year. However, a celebration to honor those who embraced the tools provided is a great opportunity to have fun! Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Create a calendar with ideas for each day of NVTW.
  2. Ask vendors to bring in breakfast or lunch for the team.
  3. Put together personalized goody bags. Suggestions include swag, personalized bandage scissors, items related to dog and cat breeds, gift cards, and water bottles or mugs.
  4. Set aside time for daily games and team-building exercises. Trivia contests, scavenger hunts, show and tell, and silly games can create a bonding experience.

National Veterinary Technician Week is something to build towards and celebrate fully when it arrives. Team building is essential to the health and well-being of all personnel. A well-built team makes for a more productive atmosphere and inspires individuals to strive for excellence. And that, indeed, is something to celebrate. Challenge yourself to create a culture that nurtures the individual and becomes something the whole hospital is proud of—and wants to brag about.

Sabrina Beck, CVT, CVBL, is a learning and development manager who has practiced as a credentialed technician in day practice, emergency in private and university setting, and in the eye care specialty. She worked as a practice manager for the past 5 years, and realized her true passion lied in developing a happy, healthy, and productive team. She lives in Florida with her husband and a menagerie of animals that continually grows.

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