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How would you encourage an experienced veterinary technician to continue to find passion in their career after many years in the field?

Winning essay for the NDVTA LuAnn Lee Scholarship by Allison Beard

When I was a little girl my great grandfather used to tell me this story, the story of how he acquired our family ranch. I would sit down cross legged on the floor and stare up at him with wonder in my eyes and desire burning in my heart because I wanted nothing more than to feel the passion and love that he did, not only for the land, but for agriculture itself. He used to tell me “Alli, look out the window, what do you see?”, back then all I saw was pasture, fence posts, and horses, but now, it is so much more than that. When I look out our big dining room window I see hard work, dedication, and love. Most importantly, I see a dream; a dream that my great grandfather breathed into existence and pursued with zeal and courage.

By this point you are probably wondering what in the world this short story has anything to do with the question that was asked of me but hear me out. According to the American Animal Hospital Association’s Compensation and Benefits bookthe average mean turnover rate in the veterinary technician field is twenty-two percent, with some practices reporting numbers as high as thirty-three to fifty percent. Even more startling is the fact that just under half (45%) of veterinary technicians have left the veterinary profession entirely according to the 2016 NAVTA survey. While low pay, lack of a cohesive team, compassion fatigue, and burnout are all reported issues within the profession one can help but wonder, where are these people’s passion? Now in no way am I saying that veterinary technicians lack passion, far from it, but what I am saying is that maybe they have lost touch with their wonder and passion. After all, no one becomes a veterinary technician because they want to cuddle puppies and kittens all day. Although there may come a brief moment in their day where they get the joy of doing that, most people chase this career field because they want to help, they want to make a difference. They want to go home at the end of the night, look themselves in the mirror, and confidently know that they were the game changer in a life or death situation.

So why is it that this is often not the case? Why is it that so many veterinary technicians are going home feeling overworked and underpaid? Passion. That is the answer. When my great grandfather used to tell me that story as a small child I swore I could feel his passion radiating out of his body and washing over me, but why? Simple; he had vision, he remembered why he started and where he wanted to go. I think as an experienced veterinary technician it is so easy to give into the pressure of blaming yourself. Blaming yourself for losing a patient. Blaming yourself for the disconnect among coworkers. Blaming yourself for making a simple mistake while preforming a task that you have done a thousand times. Here is the thing though, we are all going to make mistakes, have bad days, or cry in our vehicle the whole way home; we are humans, and we will fail. However, as an experienced veterinary technician you are already beating the odds, you have made it this far. You have reminded yourself that for all those bad days comes hundreds of glorious moments. You have reminded yourself that you will not be able to save every patient, but you will fight like crazy to try your best. You have reminded yourself of why you started, what your mission was. You have reminded yourself that with all-consuming passion in your heart and air in your lungs that you were made for this job, you were born to make a difference, no matter how big or small. So to answer your question, my response is easy, do not let anyone rob you of your passion, search for it in the mundane tasks, remember that you serve a purpose greater than yourself, and when you feel like quitting or question why you even started, think of why you have pushed on this far and remember, somewhere out there, there is a thousand people looking to you with that same burning passion in their hearts thinking “because of them, I know I can make it, because of them I will push on.” 


Allison Beard is from Hamilton, MT and is currently a senior at NDSU majoring in Veterinary Technology. Ever since a young age Allison has had a deep love and passion for animals, especially cattle. In the future she hopes to be working as a calf and heifer specialist and educating others on what exactly Veterinary Technology entails. No matter where Allison ends up in the future, she knows there will be lots of animals and many great stories to share!

Ms. Beard received $500 from the LuAnn Lee ScholarshipThis scholarship fund was established in her honor to assist a veterinary technology student in the pursuit of education and to further promote the veterinary technician profession. 



Career Advancement Within & Beyond Veterinary Practice-OH YES YOU CAN! 

Rebecca Rose, CVT

Past NAVTA President 


Your career is what you make it! THE SKY IS THE LIMIT! 


I strongly suggest veterinary technicians, upon graduation, work within a well-managed practice, maxing out their technical skills (working within their scope of practice), growing their communication skills and learning everything they can about being an engaged veterinary team member within the veterinary community. 


Within the veterinary hospital you can become a team lead, training specialist, inventory manager or even a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM through VHMA). There are 16 opportunities to become a Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS through NAVTA). These are just a few options within veterinary practices, there are MANY MORE opportunities! 


I worked within a mixed animal practice on the floor as a well-leveraged Certified Veterinary Technician for thirteen years! I have overseen inventory, trained team members and managed two-AAHA Accredited Veterinary Hospitals. I offered veterinary technician relief services throughout the state of Colorado through my small business, Gypsy Rose, CVT. 


It saddens me to read on social threads all the veterinary team members who feel their careers are limited to the walls of a veterinary practice (especially in a hospital in which they are under led and mismanaged). I had a great career within veterinary practices. 


PLUS, I have worked for industry partners (VPI-Nationwide as one of their first Field Educators-2004), managed a technician association (the Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians-2000) and sat on the Iams Pet Wellness Council (2006). I currently have my own Consulting business (CATALYST Veterinary Practice Consultants-2014), speak at local, national and international conferences and have yet to see a “glass ceiling” for my career. 


Yes, I am an optimist and it has served me well growing my career as a veterinary technician! That’s just the tip of the ice-berg, because we haven’t mentioned all the volunteering I have done over the past 30 years (equally important in growing your network and career!). Keep in mind, I have an Associates Degree in Applied Sciences (AAS). Don’t think your AAS is holding you back, because you can do A LOT with your two-year degree! If you feel you must go back to school to rack up another student loan, think AGAIN!  


While researching to write the book Career Choices for Veterinary Technicians; Opportunities for Animal Lovers in 2007 (AAHA published in 2009 and revised in 2013) I learned there are opportunities for veterinary technicians in:

·      Veterinary Industry: representative, technical support, field support, marketing and selling

·      Research and Development: laboratory animal medicine, pharma, analytics 

·      Education: veterinary technician programs, universities, high schools

·      Relief Services: small business owner or agency employment

·      Writing and Publishing: editor, contributing author, free-lance 

·      Government (Local, State and Federal): shelter medicine, food inspection, herd health

·      Veterinary Practice Ownership (in some states): Yes, veterinary technicians are owners! 


Again, these are just a few options, there are MANY MORE! If you are feeling stuck, attend a veterinary conference near you with the sole purpose of networking to grow your career. If you are feeling stuck, volunteer with your state veterinary technician association and watch the doors OPEN! I know these two approaches to career advancement works because I that’s how I began growing my career within and beyond veterinary practice. 

Yes, you can have a fulfilling and satisfying career. It is in your hands, make it the best it can be!



The Veterinary Nurse Initiative – What is it all about?

Kara M. Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition)

NAVTA President


The Veterinary Nurse Initiative (VNI) is creating discussion. Discussion is the action or process of talking about something, normally in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas. Discussion and communication are vital to our profession; whether discussing an evidence-based protocol, communicating with a worried owner, or discussing the state of one’s profession.


However, sometimes our communications are not received in the manner intended. Thus we are faced with miscommunication. What is the goal of communication? Shared understanding.

NAVTA has been communicating with the profession about the VNI. Discussion has ensued. This is a wonderful thing! However, we are not communicating 100% effectively, as there does not appear to be shared understanding. This is typical of the communication process. Solution? Try to find the root of the miscommunication and address it.

There are many misconceptions and questions about the VNI – some are being brought to NAVTA’s attention; others are being discussed in a variety of settings. In the hopes of gaining shared understanding, I would like to address some of the misconceptions that have been brought to my attention.


1.     Just a name change – The veterinary nurse initiative has been and continues to be the process for creating a national standardized credential with high standards and a defined scope of practice that is protected. Something our profession has been in need of and for what we have been looking for quite some time. Is the name ‘Registered Veterinary Nurse’ embraced by all in our profession? No. A large majority agrees, and a minority disagrees. We can continue to fight amongst ourselves regarding the name, or we can unite in the common good of a national standardized credential.


2.     Grandfathered Technicians -The intention of the initiative is to allow current credentialed veterinary technicians to practice under the new title. This includes those technicians

a.     which hold a valid credential in their state of practice; AND/OR

b.     passed the VTNE but did not graduate from an AVMA-accredited program; OR

c.      Were credentialed through a previous grandfathering or alternate route but did not sit for and pass the VTNE,

Thus, the above will be allowed to obtain the RVN credential via the state’s credentialing agency when the state recognizes the RVN title.


3.     Reaction to sponsors – An announcement was made regarding financial sponsorship of the VNI by three separate entities that share the same parent organization. Banfield, Royal Canin, and Blue Pearl each had the opportunity to support the VNI or not. They chose to support the initiative and be an agent for change in the profession. Finding sponsors who believe in the veterinary technician/nursing profession was part of the VNI’s mission from the start. NAVTA membership dollars have gone to the initiative, but they are also going to so many other projects brought forth by NAVTA members – Committee on Veterinary Technician Specialties (CVTS), social media development, continuing education, veterinary technician students, etc., etc. Sponsorship to the VNI will help in keeping the VNI moving forward while allowing for NAVTA to continue focusing on other projects. Additional support has also come from other profession partners. Brief Media’s journals Veterinary Team Brief and Clinician’s Brief has supported the initiative from its inception and uses ‘nursing’ in the journals. The North American Veterinary Community has announced that they will change the name of Today’s Veterinary Technician to Today’s Veterinary Nurse as a show of support for the national standardized credential.


Shared understanding does not always equate to shared agreement. That is OK! Professional discussion helps both sides to come to shared understanding. What I am hoping to provide is information to aid in the discussion.  Remember - The bigger the dream, the more important the team.



WVC 2018 Technician Case Reports

March 6, 2018

Are you planning to attend Western Veterinary Conference 2018? Please join us for the NAVTA Technician Case Report Presentations at on Tuesday, March 6th.  


Congratulations to the eight credentialed veterinary technicians selected to share the details of their involvement in a diverse variety of cases. Each presenter will have 15 minutes to present their case, followed by questions from the audience and an oral critique from our panel of judges. What an awesome opportunity to hone their presentation skills! Check out this great lineup.


Larraine Lage, LVT, CVT, RALAT, VTS (ECC) presenting Rain Maker: Critical Care of the Transgenic Mouse in Hypovolemic Shock. The amount of autonomy and independent thinking needed to exercise as the primary point of care for this case highlights the benefits and challenges of being a technician in the research setting and shines a light on the extremely important role veterinary technicians play in biomedical research.


In a Hemophilia A and Surgery, Leah Mackereth, CVT explains her role in a surgery performed on a golden retriever with hemophilia A and in post-op care.


Nicole Sinclair, LVT presents, The Wind Beneath My Broken Wing. This anesthetic procedure presented many unique opportunities such a jugular catheter, brachial plexus block, arterial catheter, mechanical ventilation and much more.


An Unexpected Outcome to Hepatic Lipidosis presented by Alexandria Timpson, RVTg, B.S. A domestic short hair cat presented for prolonged anorexia resulting in hepatic lipidosis. This case report demonstrates the important role of the veterinary technician can in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and promptly initiating resuscitative efforts when needed.                                        


Cherie’ Dilts, CVT’s case report, OHE Dehiscence - Criticalist to ER, STAT!, follows an 8 month old FS Labrador who presented with a spay incision dehiscence due to self-mutilation.  It includes emergency stabilization, a blood transfusion, transfer to surgery, and post op care.


Priscilla Paradise, RVT will present Lung Lobe Torsion in a Pug. Daisy, an 8yr FS pug that presented for dyspnea and lethargy was suffering from a cranial lung lobe torsion and emergent surgery was required. With a permanent tracheal stoma due to severe brachycephalic airway syndrome, Daisy presented as a non-traditional case and anesthetic challenges soon followed.


Multimodal Analgesia in a Chronic Osteoarthritis Canine Patient. Dawn Hickey, LVMT, CCRP will explain the extensive and ongoing pain management in a dog with chronic, severe osteoarthritis. Simaba has progressive osteoarthritis in every joint of his appendicular skeleton and bilateral patella alta and lateral patella luxation of the left hind limb. Ongoing pain management included physical rehabilitation, pharmacologic and nutritional management, acupuncture and regenerative medicine.


Kelly Hickey, CVT’s case, Biliary Duct Obstruction-A Complicated Success Story, is a common bile duct obstruction whose initial presentation was fairly straightforward, but had stent migration and re-obstruction after the initial surgery, so his recovery was prolonged (11+ days!) and complicated.


Talk about variety! You don’t want to miss any of the case reports or the Technician Case Report Awards Presentation immediately following the conclusion of the last presentation. See you there!


RVN - It’s more than a name change!

Mary L. Berg, BS, LATG, RVT, VTS(Dentistry)

NAVTA President 


The Veterinary Nurse Initiative (VNI) is advocating for more than a simple title change.  The goal is to create a unified title for our profession within the veterinary field and eliminate the confusion of CVT, RVT, LVT and LVMT across all states. In addition, education will be provided for veterinarians, practice managers and consumers as to the responsibilities of the credentialed veterinary nurse and their role in pet health care.  Standardizing of credential requirements will open paths for reciprocity between states, enabling easier movement between states and help those who move often as a part of a military family or any other reasons and travel for disaster relief to practice in states outside of their home state.

Many ask about the protection of the title and the skills associated with the title, Registered Veterinary Nurse.  NAVTA and the VNI are working closely with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) to create common terminology, scope of practice, model practice acts, policies and procedures to help each state and association in governing these credentials.  

Much like Registered Nurses, the Registered Veterinary Nurse will have to obtain education and a license which will allow for practice at a higher standard of care, thus providing greater patient advocacy and consumer protection.  The consumers awareness of the term nurse will bring greater understanding and a clear expectation of the role of the Veterinary Nurse in the veterinary setting.  This increased awareness and respect of RVN’s will create a greater demand for credentialed individuals in the care of pets.  The goal is to allow current credentialed veterinary technicians practice under the new title. 

The veterinary technician profession has changed over the last 50 years and to grow, the profession needs to continue to change.  Currently, credentialing requirements, title, and scope of practice are overseen by each state, which has led to the confusion within the veterinary community, carrying over to the consumer.   A single unified title with a standardized credential throughout all 50 states will help improve the level of patient and client care, incorporate title protection, and improve public awareness of the roles of the veterinary nurse.



Rebecca Rose, CVT 


As your career advances, stepping into a leadership role is a natural progression for individuals who have an internal, solid compass. Self-awareness, authenticity, and confidence are a few traits to cultivate and grow. It's good to know you are leading from within, identifying your strengths and expanding as a leader. 

You may ask yourself, “Who am I to lead? Who am I to offer direction or be courageous in decision making?”  I am simply here to ask you, “Why not take action in directing your life and be courageous in decision making?”

Often times we consider leaders as someone who has achieved greatness; an expert, or a prodigy. In all actuality, we are all leaders in our own right, leading our individual lives with integrity, authenticity, and courage. The definition of leadership generally refers to a group, but true leaders began leading their own life, then began leading organizations or teams.


For now, let’s consider the ways you can lead and define your own life. Identify personal habits and traits that serve you in your daily life.



1)     Identify your passion; know what drives you

When I speak with veterinary teams, I often ask them what drives them. I want to know what their passions are. I ask “What brings you joy in your day?” Then, I just listen, until someone answers. It surprises me how few people understand what brings them joy, or bliss or happiness.


A person who is self-aware can articulate what motivates them. They know what they are passionate about. In this way, they can bring more of it into their lives. Typically, a person’s strengths lies within their passion. When someone identifies their strengths, they can continue to grow and lead in that area of their life.


2)     Build self-confidence

As you grow in your career and advance down you life’s path, there will be times in your life when you are taking leaps of faith and sailing into uncharted waters. THAT’S GOOD! The fact is, if we never pushed the envelope and stepped beyond our comfort zone there would be no growth.


3)     Allow your authentic self to shine

You have a unique story to tell. Your life’s path is your own and it has gotten you this far. You have traveled in your “moccasins” unlike anyone else. Because of your travels, you can empathize and sympathize with others and their stories. Embrace your uniqueness and the differences in others. Wouldn’t the world be boring if we all had the same story to tell?


4)     Let Go of Limiting Beliefs

Many of us hold onto beliefs that have been self-inflicted or dictated by family or friends (what kind of friend is that?). We hold onto ideas that limit us or even paralyze us, interfering with us achieving our goals. As an example, I use to tell people, “When I get more organized, I will pursue writing a book on Career Choices for Veterinary Technicians.” Then one day a friend said, “That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! You are the most focused, determined, organized person I know, when you want to do something.”  To make a long story short, I tapped into my inner “book writer,” let go of the limiting belief I had about myself and wrote the book!


Keeping these 4 habits in mind, how will you step outside your comfort zone and take a leap of faith in designing and leading your life? Yes, it can be scary, exhilarating, and phenomenal, all at the same time. Personal and professional growth is all that, PLUS it can be rewarding!


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are more powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us, “writes Marianne Williamson. She goes on to state that playing small does not serve the world. We are encouraged to let our light shine. When we allow our light to shine (authentic self), we allow others the permission to do the same.

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