Starting a new job can give you butterflies, the good and the bad kind. Will I fit in with my coworkers? Will I be able to handle the way they do things? Change can make anyone anxious but, it’s especially hard on the person experiencing the brunt of it. As a senior technician, it is important to make your new technicians feel comfortable and welcome.
Teaching entry level technicians as a senior technician
Give a tour
It’s important to show where you keep everything and how the workflow goes during the day. By doing so you will help make everyone more comfortable. Shadowing is the best way to fully submerge them into the atmosphere. Have them shadow you for a few days and give them the opportunity to do things their own way. This way you can help correct or offer suggestions in real-time.
Teach but don’t takeover
Give a person a fish, they have dinner for tonight. Teach them to fish and they have dinner for a lifetime. If you do everything for them you are doing a disservice to both of you. They need to learn and develop their own techniques without you taking over. In the same token, it’s okay and important to give pointers and tips along the way. They shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes, because that’s how you learn.
Be open to new ideas
This is a progressive industry. Medicine in itself is always upgrading, and therefore someone coming out of school may have new ideas. Be open to these ideas because they may work better than your current protocols. If you’re too closed-minded you may lose out on new, and improved ways of doing things.
Get to know each other
It’s important that you change your teaching approach to fit each new technician. You need to adapt your learning module to fit the person who is learning from it so they get the most out of it. You can also inquire how they feel most comfortable learning, and what works best for them. This will ensure the greatest chance of success.
I cannot stress this enough! Ask many questions. Not only will it help them learn, but it will also keep them on their toes. This is especially effective for retaining information. Keep it light however, if you ask too many questions you can give information overload. Ask simple questions, that are straightforward and to the point. Make sure you are also readily available for them when they have a particular question.
Always check and recheck
You want to be able to eventually have blind trust in your coworkers but at the beginning that just is not possible. Not to mention this is a career where improper work can result in detrimental results. We do not want someone’s mistake to be at the animal’s expense, and by checking we can stop disasters in their tracks.
Your attitude is everything. Having a bad one will not do anyone any good. It can actually halt any progress being made. It will keep people from learning and keep them from wanting to work with you. Of course, it’s impossible to stay pleasant the entire time but, make sure it comes in smaller volumes. Whenever I get into a bad mood I make sure to express to my coworkers that it isn’t them, and I just need to work it out in my own time. This is a great tool to ensure that they don’t take anything personally and allows you to possibly blow off steam without hurting feelings.
Core Values & Culture
When making new hires you should go over your practices core values and the culture you are trying to maintain. It’s important that they understand what each core value means and what at a bare minimum is expected of them. This creates a strong foundation and allows you to hold them accountable if they aren’t respecting the environment.
Remember your first day? How did you feel, and how did you get through it? Are you treating these new team members the way you would’ve wanted to be treated? If the answer is yes then continue to do what you’re doing.
It’s easy to get frustrated with new team members, especially in this high energy intense career. Especially if you’re in a position where it all falls on you. Remember teaching new technicians to be successful will ultimately help you in the end. You will be able to trust them and therefore delegate tasks, which in turn will lighten your workload.
Teaching isn’t for everyone so if you are not the teaching type you should learn the best way to get your point across without sounding bossy. However, I think every technician needs to be some form of a teacher in order to maintain a positive atmosphere. One that promotes learning, new ideas, and making the best planned protocols for all animals. When you get involved with teaching you are directly putting your hand in the future of your practice and veterinary medicine.
Jaclyn is a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) who has a bachelors degree in journalism. Combining her two interests of writing, and veterinary medicine is a true passion. Jaclyn has already created her own blog called The Four Legged Nurse (@thefourleggednurse) and looks forward to contributing to I Love Veterinary! Jaclyn is blessed with two children, a wonderful husband, and four devoted fur babies. In her free time she loves spending time with her family, reading, and riding horses.