How important is continuing education to a veterinary practice, anyway? What resources are out there to help you? Just ask Mary Berg, whose words of wisdom will start you on the path to elevated care and an elevated career.
Some veterinary professionals may be asking, especially early in their career, "How do I get more education with my busy work schedule? Do more credentials even matter? Should I specialize in something? What can organized medicine offer me and the practice?"
To address these questions, we brought in Mary Berg, BS, RLATG, RVT, VTS (Dentistry) for this week’s Quick Cup of Knowledge called “Education.” Ms. Berg, a.k.a. the Dental Diva, shares her wisdom regarding continuing education in the veterinary profession.
Advantages of Continuing Education
One of the most commonly reported problems of veterinary technicians is feeling underutilized at their practices or plateaued in their careers. Berg believes that the answer lies in receiving further education to increase utilization and job satisfaction.
Veterinary technicians need to recognize a need at their practice and seek out the training in order to fill that need. Berg would be the first to say that not everyone needs to specialize, that you should only specialize if you are truly passionate about that area, but education is something everyone at the practice should be continually receiving.
Some technicians may sometimes be assigned to a position they don’t have much experience in. Let’s say you get promoted to being a technician manager, for example. It is especially in these situations where seeing if the clinic will help you receive that training is essential to you excelling in that position.
You may even seek that training out yourself—there are plenty of hands-on and online resources that can help. Education is extremely important to Berg, being an online graduate herself. So, when she hears technicians saying they can’t get the education, she’s quick to tell them that they absolutely can. Given how technology and different platforms have opened up the educational opportunities, there is no reason you wouldn’t be able to receive the education you need. When there’s a will, there’s a way.
Berg also argues that having that degree and becoming credentialed is so important to the advancement of your career. It’s an opportunity for all veterinary technicians to own their careers and for their talents to be utilized to the greatest extent, overcoming the feeling of being stifled or stagnant.
The main message Ms. Berg sends to all veterinary professionals out there is to take the initiative to ask for more education to better your practice and patient care.
Benefits of Organized Medicine & Educational Programs
Organized medicine is an exceptional resource for educational opportunities as well as for addressing things such as career building and well-being. Berg is also the past president of NAVTA, making her a source of insight as to how you can utilize various veterinary associations and groups to improve job satisfaction.
In the case of NAVTA, Berg says they are working on improving the wellbeing of the veterinary community by focusing on five things: physical wellness, mental wellness, professional wellness, financial wellness, and harassment. They provide resources and a community to turn to, but she makes sure to mention that it’s not just a sounding board or a place to vent. It’s made to be a resource to help provide solutions.
Another type of resource that can help your career and your practice are educational programs like the one Berg founded, Beyond the Crown Veterinary Education. When hired by a practice for training, she finds out the needs of that specific practice and customizes the program. Training their entire staff with one unified message on their own equipment can dramatically change the level of efficiency and efficacy.
Being the Dental Diva, Berg stresses how important this kind of training is to aspects of the practice like dentistry. She says 80% of patients that come in have a dental disease, but only 14% are being treated in an animal hospital. Treating it earlier, having care be more preventative rather than having to extract a whole mouth of teeth, is easier when your team is trained on updated dental x-ray equipment, efficient teeth cleaning practices, and how to talk to clients about dental issues.
The bottom line: If you’re feeling underutilized or not growing in your career, there’s a way to fix that. Mary Berg, the Dental Diva, is a testament to what a veterinary technician can do with passion, discipline, and education.
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