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STAF112-1103: Personnel Issues Facing The Veterinary Practice Managers

Susan Strattman, CVPM and Heather Howell, LVT, MBA

November 26 - December 31, 2003
Real Time Sessions: Monday evenings December 1, 8, 15 and 22; 9:30 - 11:00pm ET (USA)


Goal of the course: To enable and empower veterinary practice leaders to effectively manage hiring and personnel issues. The course will cover how to hire the "right" people for the veterinary profession, how to conduct an orientation, how to set up and maintain personnel files and information, performance planning versus employee evaluations, disciplinary action and termination procedures.
The course consists of four (4) online sessions covering discussion of personnel situations; homework reinforcing the handouts and real time sessions; interactive message boards to discuss the real time sessions and homework; and a final exam.
The course offers homework that each participant must complete during the course. The goal of the homework is to test the participant's knowledge of the material discussed in each session.

All veterinary support staff are encouraged to join the course and its discussions; however, this course is focused toward veterinary practice managers, hospital administrators, supervisors and those involved in the personnel management aspects of the practice.

Upon completion of this course, the participant should be able to:

  1. Understand the hiring team, recruiting techniques, and what to look for in an applicant. Understand personality types and how this relates to hiring. Set up an initial orientation program for new employees.
  2. Understand how to set up and maintain personnel files. What to include and what not to include. Protect the practice from potential liabilities by maintaining proper personnel records.
  3. Utilize performance planning as a staff empowerment method. Make an informed decision about how to conduct "performance reviews, evaluations or plans". Keep pertinent records regarding formal communications with staff.
  4. Handle employee disciplinary actions in a manner that both protects the hospital from liability and ensures fair treatment to the employees involved. Understand various warning and corrective measures.
  5. Be a more knowledgeable and effective leader of the hospital team.

WEEK 1 - Hiring the Right People
Content: During this lecture we will discuss what to look for in an applicant. We will cover the basics of personality types and how this relates to the job positions in a veterinary hospital. We will also discuss developing a hiring team and the reasons behind involving your staff in the hiring process. We will focus on recruiting and hiring issues and methods. This session will not focus on the mechanics of an interview, but will cover suggested interview questions and techniques applicable to the discussion.

WEEK 2 - Orientation and Personnel Records
Content: This session will cover new employee orientation programs and their importance. Examples will be given of such programs. The manager's role in overseeing proper orientation as it relates to liability issues will be discussed. Personnel record keeping methods will also be covered. How to start a personnel file, what can and should be included, as well as what must be filed separately will be reviewed. We will also discuss maintaining personnel files and avoiding potential liabilities in record keeping.

WEEK 3 - Performance Planning, Evaluations and Progress Reports
Content: This session will focus on formal communication with employees. We will discuss the merits and downfalls of traditional employee evaluations. We will present the concept of performance planning. We will discuss empowering employees, goal setting, and dealing with substandard performance. This session will also cover the record keeping and liability aspects of formal communications.

WEEK 4 - Disciplinary Action and Termination
Content: This lecture will cover at-will employment, contractual employment, and how to handle disciplinary procedures. We will cover the importance of an employee policy manual, consistency in handling employee issues, and liabilities involved in disciplinary actions and termination. This session will discuss warnings, mentoring programs, retraining, documentation, and finally termination procedures.

Case discussions will begin 3 (three) days before the start of the course and will continue for one week following the last real time session. These discussions will be held in the VSPN CE course area.

CE HOURS: 6 CE credits

$96 ($86.00 early bird special if registered before November 12, 2003). Full time students of an AVMA accredited Veterinary Technician Program will receive a reduced rate for this course of $48.00 (upon verification of student status)


  1. You must be a registered member of VSPN ( Membership in VSPN is free.
  2. VIN Member DVM's SHOULD NOT register for their staff. Please have the staff member register through VSPN. Please email if you have questions.
*VT students, please include your program directors name, school, and school phone number in the comments section of the CE registration form. Your registration will be delayed if this information is not included.
*** For More Information on VSPN's upcoming CE Courses, check out

Note: "This course has been submitted for approval for 7.5 hours of continuing education credits in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB's RACE approval; however participants should be aware that some boards have limitations on the number of hours accepted in certain categories and/or restrictions on certain methods of delivery of continuing education. Call VIN/VSPN for further information." (Attendees are encouraged to check with their licensing jurisdiction(s) for information regarding recognition by their board.)

COURSE WITHDRAWAL AND REFUND POLICY: Withdrawal prior to the listed start date of a course entitles the registrant to a complete refund or a credit toward a future VIN CE course, whichever is preferred. Withdrawal within 1 week after the listed start date (i.e. including no more than one real-time session) entitles the registrant to a credit toward any future VIN CE course. (Does not apply to courses with only one real-time session.) After the first real-time session, a registrant may withdraw due to special circumstances and receive prorated credit towards a future VIN course. These requests will be handled on an individual basis. The amount of the prorated credit will be determined based on 65% of the time remaining in the course at the time of withdrawal. It is not possible to withdrawal retroactively. Note: To ensure rapid handling of your request for withdrawal, we recommend that you call the VIN office at 1-800-700-INFO.
Nanette R. Walker Smith, RVT, CVT
VSPN Content Director or


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