Congratulations! You’ve just completed the arduous process of searching forresearchinginterviewing, and selecting a new professional for your veterinary practice. But the process doesn’t end just because you’ve figured out who you want to hire. In fact, now the really important part of the process begins: onboarding and training your new team member.

Here are the essential onboarding steps you won’t want to miss:

Formalize the offer in writing

Although you may make the offer to the candidate verbally, it is best to document it in writing to avoid miscommunication, missing information, confusion, and misperception. In the formal written offer, be sure to include:

  • The job title and official job description
  • The schedule
  • The reporting relationship (Who do they report to? Does anyone report to them?)
  • Any contingencies, such as the completion of a background check and drug screening
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Employment status
  • A place for the new hire to sign and date the offer

Once your new team member has signed the formal offer and any contingencies have been completed, your relationship has officially begun.

Provide orientation and training

Unfortunately, new employees in many veterinary practices are thrown into their positions with virtually no formal orientation or training. An employee’s perception of her new job is determined by her first impression. Keeping in mind that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, your practice should ensure that new hires feel welcomed, valued, and prepared for what lies ahead. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Be prepared for the newbie’s arrival — Have a notebook prepared in advance for the new employee that includes a welcome letter, the job description, a phase training guide, and copies of your employee policies and the practice’s standards and operating procedures.
  • Block time off your schedule and dedicate that time to the newbie — A leader of the practice should spend the first initial hours with the new employee anchoring the core values, mission, and vision of the practice. The leader should also introduce the new employee to all the team members in each department and provide a description of any on-the-job training he or she will receive.
  • Assign a mentor — The mentor helps the new employee get oriented and be responsible for ensuring their training is accomplished. The mentor should be a person on your team who has longevity in the practice and a desire to teach others. Choose someone who is invested in the practice’s success and has a positive attitude. It would be advantageous for you to compensate the mentor for taking on this additional responsibility of training the new employee.
  • Follow up weekly — As you have read in this article and in other articles on my blog, the amount of time and effort that goes into effective recruiting and hiring is huge. It is critical that you don’t drop the ball by handing the new employee off to others and neglecting to follow up. Touch base with the new employee on a weekly basis for the first couple of months to keep your finger on the pulse of how she’s doing. You’ll know if she feels good about her place in the practice, and if she doesn’t, you’ll be better positioned to help change that.


The average turnover rate in the veterinary profession is 30 percent, but your practice doesn’t have to perpetuate that statistic. Learn more about building a high-quality, highly functioning, self-reliant team.