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Continuing Education

Licensed professionals often need to attend a certain number of continuing eduction (CE) hours a year to keep up their licenses. Honestly, those hours can be sadly pretty sparse. Here in Arizona, Veterinarians need twenty hours every 2 years, and I as a vet tech need ten every two years. This is a renewal year for my Veterinary Technician license, so, I need to have 10 CEUs (CE units) over the past two years to keep up my license.

Some of the dog training courses I have taken in the past few years count, whereas, some do not. Anything taught by a veterinary behaviorist counts, whereas, most of the education earned during the Karen Pryor Clicker Expo does not. I got sucked into a 4 CEU webinar about cannabis - specifically cannabinoids, the cannabinoid system, and CBD (THC works very differently on dogs and humans, and dogs can overdose on TCH due to different receptors in the brain) - the fact that I don't recommend CBD helter-skelter for behavior issues, in spite of the CE being presented by a veterinarian who owned a veterinary CBD manufacturing business (conflict of interest much?) shows how compelling the research was not.

Anyway, I digress.

The point of this is not to tell you that CBD Oil doesn't't cure everything (it has little effect on most everything!) but to discuss why professional organizations require CE in the first place.

I worked with a veterinarian who thought that surgery could be sold a la cart - that owners, who knew fuck all about medicine could make informed decisions about such things as the necessity of pre-op blood work, post op pain medications (NO! Just NO! Pain control is NOT an option! It is a necessity!), and whether or not a pet required an IV catheter (they do) - which, of course is her job. That's what she spent a hundred grand going to school for, and spent countless hours in lectures learning. The fact that she practiced this way (and other disturbing quirks, like allowing pet owners to choose a vaccine that had nearly zero research behind it to be administered because in spite of her well-founded belief that it could do more harm than good, discussing why she wouldn't give it with clients was harder than just giving it - just WOW!) told me she must be sleeping through CE.

Maybe she was. Or maybe she had simply missed the relevant lectures on new vaccine guidelines, the physiology of pain control (early and often), or even lectures one how to educate clients without conflict, in favor of lectures on, I don't know, nail trimming and ... I don't know, everything I could name, even in jest, she did pretty much badly.

So, forcing CE on people doesn't work. The vet working under her would go to Vegas for CE, drink with old friends and golf. I think it's safe to say that the only thing he ever learned at CE was the cost of booze in the various strip casinos.

So, why am I bringing this up? There's something I saw in all the great veterinarians I worked with (and there were a LOT - Animal Care Center of Green Valley for example, is filled with them!), and that is a genuine curiosity and courage to be curious about their profession. They knew how little they know (we all know - medicine is crazy complex - biological beings are complicated!) and they leaned in. They were hungry to learn more.

Part of this is courage. It takes courage to charge people what veterinarians do, knowing that what they know is so filled with holes. How can you be an expert when what you're most expert in is what you don't know? The two vets I mentioned earlier suffered from a failure of this courage. The female didn't't trust herself at all, deferring her expert knowledge to the opinions of lay people with an internet connection; while the man learned everything there was to know when he graduated in 1972 (!!!!) and nothing new was necessary - for him, uncertainty would have been frightening, so he simply turned away from it.

When we look at dog training it is filled with factions, personalities who have risen far above their expertise, armchair experts, charlatans, and worse. People who speak with the utmost confidence concerning things about which they know little or nothing. And because we are not a 'profession' we are even more terrified to broadcast what we do not know. People come to trainers because they feel confident that they can solve their problems with their dogs. They don't want uncertainty. But, behavior is uncertain. How weird that we would thoroughly distrust anyone who said that they could change a human's behavior in just weeks, or teach a worried person to become confident by scaring or hurtng them for showing fear. People cannot fix other people. Parents, with all the help provided by psychology, psychiatry, and counselors lose children to poor choices every day. Yet, dog trainers have a magic bullet that changes behavior in a week? Or two? Or even a month?

I've known dog trainers who attend CE every year and change nothing in their training. When asked, they shrug and say the speakers weren't that good? Really!? How is that even possible? But it is, if you go in with your mind set, and your opinions hardened, because you are afraid to admit what you don't know, or even worse, have completely deluded yourself into believing that you are an expert above learning more.

Ask your trainer (and veterinarian! and Doctor!!) what they learned in the last year that has changed what they have been doing. The answer will speak volumes about their willingness to take in new information in their craft.

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