Why your employer should enroll you in the Shelter Medicine distance education program

One of the most successful ways to get management support for education is to submit a formal proposal to your direct supervisor outlining why you believe you and your organization will benefit from this type of training.

As a first step, find out if your organization has a professional development policy. If so, determine if there is a form to fill out and if there is a specified amount of funding available per employee. Next, review the certificate program website and/or contact a professor to determine what aspects of this training will help you in your daily role and will help your organization. Third, begin preparing your proposal.

Keep in mind, some shelters are willing to raise funds from private donors to sponsor advanced training for shelter veterinarians. You might also be eligible for private education loans. We recommend that you do an internet to search for “private education loans” to find out who will fund part-time graduate work.

Why take courses in Shelter Medicine?

Shelter professionals need special knowledge and skills targeted at the unique challenges presented when caring for large numbers of homeless dogs and cats. They must be able to manage infectious diseases not usually seen in well-cared-for pets. They must be able to prevent behavior problems that could keep a homeless animal from being adopted. They must also be able to improve animal welfare by conducting forensic medical examinations and performing high-volume, high-quality spay and neuter surgeries.

Few veterinarians leave veterinary school with these skills because, until recently, few veterinary schools offered training in Shelter Medicine. The University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the early pioneers in this field.

Continuing Education Credits

Each course counts for 45 contact hours of continuing education credits for veterinarians in the state of Florida. As each state has their own guidelines, you should check your state requirements. The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida can provide any required documentation to submit the courses you take for CE credits in your state. At 45 contact hours per course, the overall price of each class equals just $35/contact hour.

How to Create a Successful Proposal

  1. You can make your proposal more impactful by listing your organization’s goals and objectives and linking how they relate to the curriculum’s educational objectives. Use the learning outcomes for each class to determine what points you would like to emphasize. To find these, click on the individual courses on the curriculum page.
  2. Read through the syllabus for each class with an idea of how you can help your organization grow or improve. Find items that will help your shelter improve the health of animals, their behavior, your adoption success, your shelter costs, your efficiency, or any other ways you will learn to impact the shelter environment. For instance, reducing the outbreak of disease or diagnosing a disease before it spreads through your shelter population will reduce overall expenditures on medication and surgery and will increase the likelihood of adoptions.
  3. You’ll need to address the cost of the program, and all of the costs for the courses are included in the tuition section of the website. Remember, no travel is necessary. You can also continue to work full-time while you earn this certificate.
  4. Even if you choose to have a conversation with your manager/owner, rather than writing a formal proposal, it would be a good idea to have a list of the reasons the certificate program will enable you to perform your job at a higher level and make your shelter more successful. Going through the exercise of looking through the curriculum for details that will teach you new concepts or improve your organization.

Overcoming Objections

Many of our students have overcome objections before starting our program. Here is how to handle them:

My employer says it is too expensive and we lack the funds.

  • The education provided from the University of Florida will become an invaluable tool for you and your employer. At 45 contact hours per course, the overall price of each class equals just $35/contact hour. Some shelters also raise funds from private donors to sponsor advanced training for their staff.
  • You may also be eligible for private education loans. We recommend doing an Internet search for “private education loans” for part-time graduate work.

My employer would prefer me to just attend a free webinar.

  • The University of Florida has led the charge to create a curriculum for shelter veterinarians and the unique situation of caring for the health and welfare of large numbers of homeless dogs and cats. Our one-of-a-kind program is internationally known and respected for its strong academic reputation, pioneering research, and service to the animal welfare community.
  • By using the latest online delivery tools, this is not a passive webinar; it’s an interactive virtual classroom with discussion forums, live chat, and access to leading educators and your peers in the field of Shelter Medicine. You’ll gain useful ideas that can be implemented immediately in your shelter environment, and you can participate on your own schedule, wherever you have an Internet connection.

I have worked in shelters for years. Why should I take this now?

  • During the University of Florida Veterinary Shelter Medicine Online Program, you’ll learn best practices that are immediately applicable to your daily role. You’ll discover new ways to think about management, the role of your shelter within the community, and new resources to help more homeless animals. Our students report using lessons within days of learning them to improve the physical and mental health of their sheltered pets and to create more opportunities for pet adoption.

My employer just wants me to attend a conference instead.

  • Conferences are a great place to network and learn, but it is difficult to dig in as deeply to this content at the graduate level as you will in this program. During this series of courses, you’ll be exposed to some familiar and new concepts, and you’ll still have the opportunity to network with your fellow students and professors. You’ll learn from a mix of videos, readings, live discussions, presentations, and quizzes.
  • We suggest going through the curriculum to find examples of learning outcomes that would be useful to you or to your organization. Look for ideas that will either save time and money, improve your efficiency, improve the adoption outcomes for homeless animals, or another topic that is important to your shelter’s goals. You’ll also receive a graduate-level certificate from the University of Florida upon successful completion of all five courses.

My employer only needs a spay/neuter vet.

  • While spaying and neutering is vital to shelter operations, the successful on-going operations of a shelter require essential skills in animal health and behavior. In these classes you will learn to diagnose and manage infectious outbreaks; evaluate surgical protocols for best practices; design protocols to maximize behavioral health and life-saving efforts; and ultimately understand and apply best practices related to sanitation, preventive health care, disease outbreak management, behavioral assessments, stress control, population management, cruelty investigations, and high-quality/high-volume sterilization.
  • You can look for examples in the curriculum of topics that discuss how the veterinarian’s role goes beyond spaying and neutering to the entire life cycle of the homeless animal and why a well-trained vet is vital to a successful shelter.