After many hours of searching for the perfect new employee, once hired, the question arises of “what now?” The onboarding process is too often viewed as a list of items to check off and more than we would like to admit, the new employee is sent into full swing before we provide him/her the correct tools needed to perform his or her job efficiently and productively. This can lead to disappointment for both the employee and the employer, and unfortunately create high turnover in the practice. To obtain the goal of retaining a long-term valuable employee, the onboarding process needs to be viewed as just that, a process. The purpose of a great onboarding process is to teach the new employee the vision and mission of the practice, establish responsibilities, make him/her feel a part of the team, and teach them the culture you’ve worked so hard to create. Thus establishing a firm foundation for the new employee to learn, grow, and become a dedicated long-term employee.

Whether hiring an associate veterinarian, licensed veterinary technician or other support staff, they all need to go through an onboarding process specific, consistent and complete to their job title. The struggle arises as this process varies greatly between veterinary practices and even though there is an abundance of information available about onboarding employees, it can quickly become overwhelming. The goal is to provide you resources to personalize and itemize your own onboarding process focusing on associate veterinarians and licensed veterinary technicians.
Bringing on a new employee to the team should be exciting and rewarding rather than viewed as a chore. When a new member is brought onto the team, those first impressions are imperative, not only for the new employee, but also your current employees. Creating a work team atmosphere, making them feel welcome, teaching them what is expected of them and giving them the tools to become a part of your culture is all part of a successful onboarding program that will help transform a new employee into a loyal team member.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) training schedule manual describes the importance of a basic job description and making sure it follows the S.M.A.R.T. protocol: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive. Another guideline that is invaluable to the onboarding process is keeping a consistent time frame of checking in on the employee. For example, at week one, month one, month three, month six, year one and annually thereafter. This gives the employee time to reflect on areas they can improve, what areas they feel they need more training in, areas they need less training in, etc. This also gives the employers an opportunity to share progress in a verbal and written format and allows the onboarding process to be customized to that individual employee over the years.

Onboarding today’s veterinarians, technicians and staff is a process which is expected to take at least three months and even up to one year. Taking the time to teach, encourage, support and allowing the employee to grow will lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction overall.

Five common onboarding ideas

  • Pre-set scheduled ‘check in’ dates: one week, one month, three months, six months, 12 months, yearly
  • Legal + Policy paperwork
  • Detailed checklist of expectations of duties
  • Assign a designated mentor to new hire
  • Use the 70-20-10 framework:
    1. 70% of his or her time is learning while doing a task
    2. 20% of his or her time is learning a task from someone else
    3. 10% of his or her time is learning at an event or online

AAHA and AVMA both have detailed training manuals to aid in creating your own on boarding process. Dr. Jim DeLano has recently created a website dedicated to on boarding veterinarians, technicians and support staff. Visit growabetter.com for more information.

Job Descriptions and Training Schedules for the Veterinary Team – AAHA
CPR to Revive Your Veterinary Team – AVMA Future Leaders
Organized Onboarding Assistant – growabetter.com
You Hired Them. Now What? – Veterinary Business Advisers
Phased Induction Training for Receptionists — VMC, Inc.