Getting the most out of your veterinary Continuing Education (CE) / Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Author: Dr. Justine Lee, DACVECC, DABT, CEO, VETgirl, LLC.
As a C student, I never thought I’d be the CEO and co-founder of VETgirl, the #1 online veterinary Continuing Education (CE) / Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in North America.
20 + years ago when I graduated veterinary school, we didn’t have email. Or social media. Or online reviews. Since then, technology has blossomed. And that’s why I created VETgirl – to be able to provide clinically relevant, practical online CE/CPD that you get from the comforts of home.
Because what I realized as I practiced was that we veterinarians have time poverty.
As a mom, time – especially to myself – is something that is a rare commodity and I always feel guilty when I have to spend time away from my family for my professional job. Online interactive CE makes it SO much easier for me to find the time to learn when I can and having a vast library of knowledge in the form of archived webinars and podcasts, also allows me to learn and pick up things I’ve missed. VETgirl truly provides clinically relevant CE delivered by high quality and knowledgeable speakers and makes it convenient for me to learn – VETgirl member
As a blossoming Veterinarian, I didn’t have time to read my veterinary journals, class notes, or textbooks. I came home exhausted after working long days in the clinic and was ready to crash – I didn’t want to take the time to learn! Trying to develop your veterinary skills while working on medical records and while keeping up on CE/CPD was hard! Where did one find the time while trying to achieve “work-life balance?”
So, I wanted to create a learning platform that allowed veterinary professionals to utilize technology to their advantage to help them learn. Because as veterinary professionals, we need to continue to learn to improve our quality of medicine.
So, why is it important that you continue to learn in veterinary medicine?
Before you know it, you’ll be 5 years post-matriculation from veterinary school or veterinary nursing school. Then 10 years. Then 15 years. It flies by!
And with that, comes the newest veterinary updates out there. New drugs. New parasicitides. New diseases (we didn’t learn about feline pancreatitis when I went to vet school!).
That’s why you need to love to learn in #vetmed.
So, what are the best ways to learn?
- Podcasts I listen to 1-2 hours of podcasts a day, and often find myself learning about different topics that I never would have been interested in otherwise. That’s why I created our VETgirl podcasts to be short and sweet (typically ranging from 5-25 minutes long) on the newest updates in veterinary medicine. What I found was that my pile of veterinary journals was stacking up in my office, and once a year, I’d dump them into my recycling bin. So, to save you some trees, the VETgirl team combs through the important veterinary published literature and makes them into educational soundbites for you … because I know you don’t have time to read your journals.
- Online veterinary CE There are lots of way of getting CE / CPD online nowadays. Check with your clinic about subscribing for a TEAM membership, so your whole hospital can learn together. This is important to improve quality of care and keep up to date on procedures and education. Make sure the CE provides a large variety of content for your whole team – for veterinarians, veterinary nurses, customer service representatives – and in different areas/topics. VETgirl recently expanded to over 100+ hours of new content a year in areas of small animal, large animal, leadership, veterinary technician/nurse, and more! You also want to find a source that also provides educational content in other ways – such as “how to” videos, so you can learn how to perform a procedure and get some “remote help!”
- Veterinary conferences I’m still a big believer in attending live veterinary conferences. Not only is it a good way to connect with colleagues and old friends, but wandering the exhibit hall is a great way to see what new products and resources are out there. If you’re looking for a veterinary job, make sure your new employer covers enough CE / CPD funds for you to learn in-person at a conference and online! Sadly, most veterinary nurses don’t often get a stipend, and they need to learn too… which is why a VETgirl TEAM membership for online CE may be more cost effective and a must-do for any veterinary clinic.
- Textbooks I’ll admit, I buy limited textbooks nowadays. Typically with textbooks, they take at least 2 years to write, edit and publish in the print version. By the time they finally reach the consumer, new information may be out there. I also find that unless it’s in a bulleted format, I don’t have time to read long chapters on a disease. So, flip through a textbook to see if you would utilize it in your clinic. These are definitely great resources to have in your hospital, but I don’t keep a spare library at home, as I’m too exhausted to read when I get home after a long day in the veterinary clinic.
- Journals Peer reviewed veterinary journals are the best way of staying up to date on the cutting edge research updates that are being released. That said, I just don’t have time to read my print journals anymore. In fact, to help reduce my carbon footprint, I’ve changed to just subscribing to the online version… so I don’t feel badly when I recycle them.
When in doubt, find a clinically relevant, practical source of veterinary continuing education / CPD that you are going to utilize. It’s so important that we continue to love to learn, as it’s the best way for us to keep our skill set and quality of medicine up to date!
About The Author
Justine Lee is the founder and CEO of VETgirl, a subscription-based podcast and webinar service offering RACE-approved, online veterinary continuing education. When not reading journal articles, lecturing internationally, exercising, and working at the clinic, she’s hiking or fulfilling her inner-foodie. Previously, she was the Associate Director of Veterinary Services at an animal poison control center in Minneapolis (2009-2013) and on faculty at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine(2003-2008).