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Objective—To identify reasons for engagement in continuing veterinary medical education (CVME) activities, obstacles to participation, ways to provide more effective programs, and ideas to improve participation in CVME.

Design—Focus group interviews.

Sample Population—Selected practicing veterinarians from a state that did mandate continuing education for relicensure.

Procedure—12 focus group interviews were held throughout the state of California between May and September 1998. Practitioners were asked to respond to questions about where they obtain information to improve their practice, what value they see in CVME, what motivates them to participate, what obstacles to CVME participation exist, and ways CVME providers and practitioners could overcome those obstacles.

Results—84 practitioners participated in the focus group interviews. In addition to the educational value of CVME, participation was used to rejuvenate practice life and prevent feelings of isolation. Continuing education activities ranged from problem-oriented chats with colleagues to formal educational programs. Timing of events, distance, money, solo practice, stage of career, and family demands were identified as barriers to participation. Designing and marketing CVME with specific learning objectives and for specific career stages and using new educational delivery technologies were suggested to overcome some of these barriers.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—If CVME is to improve practice and patient care, it should be integrated into a practice's strategic planning and considered a legitimate business expense. Decisions about CVME participation are made easier if program objectives are clearly outlined. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:1001–1006)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association