Video Tutorials   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join
Community Blogs
Share |

 

Community Blogs

 

Understanding Pet Food Buying Decisions 

Blog Author: Vicky Ograin, MBA, RVT, VTS (Nutrition)

NAVTA CE Committee Chair

 

Pet owners love their pets and want to feed them the best food possible. Unfortunately many read blogs written by people that are not from the veterinary profession, they have no nutritional training, but pet owners blindly follow them and make buying decisions based on their advice. Armed with what they think is sound advice the pet owner goes to the pet store and makes a buying decision by looking at the pet food label. Most of these blogs and commercials talk about selecting the right ingredients. Now we all know a pet needs nutrients not ingredients (unless they have a true food allergy), but pet owners do not know this and think looking at a word on a label will tell them everything they need to know about a food. Looking at an ingredient label tells you nothing about the nutrient makeup of the product.A technician can play an integral role in assisting a pet owner in reading the pet food label and deciding which food is best for an individual pet. 

 

Pet owners believe certain ingredients are bad. This has led to the grain free craze. Almost every pet food company has a grain free option and there are some companies that only have grain free options. A grain free food replaces a grain carbohydrate with a vegetable carbohydrate; these foods are not carbohydrate free. The pet food company has to replace a grain with non-grain options and balance the food. There has been a lot of research done in pet food with grain, but very little in grain alternatives, like quinoa and tapioca. This has led to concern about how the dog or cats body utilize these ingredients and could this lead to unbalances and medical issues?

 

In the meantime, what resources can we recommend for pet owners to help them make a buying decision instead of reading a non-veterinary professional blog? The Pet Nutrition Alliance is a great resource   https://www.petnutritionalliance.org/#. The AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Catsis a great resource and has a number of questions to ask pet food companies. If the company does not meet these recommendations, then a pet owner may want to reconsider buying their pet food from the pet food company. 

·      “Do you have a veterinary nutritionist or some equivalent on staff in your company? Are they available for consultation or questions? 

·      Who formulates your diets, and what are their credentials? 

·      Which of your diet(s) are tested using AAFCO feeding trials, and which by nutrient analysis? 

·      What specific quality control measures do you use to assure the consistency and quality of your product line? 

·      Where are your diets produced and manufactured? Can this plant be visited? 

·      Will you provide a complete product nutrient analysis of your best-selling dog and cat food, including digestibility values? 

·      What is the caloric value per can or cup of your diets? 

·      What kinds of research on your products has been conducted, and are the results published in peer reviewed journals?”

https://www.aaha.org/public_documents/professional/guidelines/nutritionalassessmentguidelines.pdf

 

 

Which food should I feed my pet?

Blog Author: Ed Carlson, CVT, VTS – Nutrition

NAVTA Past Committee Chair

 

This is such a hard question to answer! Impossible without taking a full nutritional history, including any health issues and determining the body condition score (BCS) and muscle condition score (MCS) of the patient. But, some general key points to discuss with owners when evaluating a pet food are:

 

The AAFCO nutritional adequately statement. Were feeding trails done or is it only formulated to meet the standards? Feeding trails are designed to determine if dogs or cats can metabolize the food and are the gold standard.

 

Is the food manufactured BY the company? If the label reads “manufactured for” or “distributed by” the company does not actually make the food. Look for foods listing “manufactured by” on the label.

 

Is the food for the life stage of the dog or cat your client will be feeding? Especially for older dogs and cats, for example diets formulated for all life stages are formulated for puppies, kittens, and pregnant/lactating animals; not appropriate for a senior pet or one that is overweight.

 

Have the client answer the following questions regarding the diet they select: Is the food 100% guaranteed? Is there a phone number to call for information? Is there a veterinary nutritionist, veterinarian, or credentialed veterinary technician on staff to answer your questions? Does the company have board certified nutritionists on staff, do they publish research? If the answer to any of these questions is no, I would suggest telling clients to continue to look for a diet that meets these conditions.

 

Want more information on selecting a pet food? View (and share with your clients) the WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee: Recommendations on Selecting Pet Foods

https://www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/Arpita-and-Emma-editorial/Selecting-the-Best-Food-for-your-Pet.pdf

 

 

 

How to communicate to pet owners that their fur-baby is chubby, and not offend them! 

Blog Author: Vicky Ograin, MBA, RVT, VTS (Nutrition)

NAVTA CE Committee Chair

 

Have you ever had an overweight pet come into the practice? Of course you have, in the USA over 50% of dogs and cats are overweight. But even more challenging if the owner at the end of the leash is also overweight? How do you have a weight loss discussion without offending them? 

 

First you need to think about how the pet got to their current weight. The owner(s) are the ones who fed the pet and so they may feel guilty about the pet’s weight. I have worked with many pet owners and have heard many reasons like; the pet begs, it is howthe owner shows love and many more reasons. For example, I had an owner going through a bad divorce and was stress eating and the dogs joined her. With compassion you can help pet owner’s get the weight off their pets. 

 

I always start by asking what the owner is currently feeding and why, understanding why will help guide you in your discussion to make sure transitioning to a weight loss program is successful. When having the discussion with the pet owner, one tip is to stay on the same side of the room with the owner, instead of facing them. That way you are both are looking at the pet and the pet becomes the focus. I also show the body condition score chart and have the owner identify what score the pet is. A number, 4-5 or 6-9, is not as devastating as the word “overweight or obese” for the owner. If the pet has a medical condition the disease should be discussed. 

 

Calculating how much to feed and communicating the amount and tips for transition is important; also discuss treats (which should be no more than 10% of the total calories per day) and exercise. Make sure you advise the owner that the amount you are recommending is a starting point and may need to be adjusted. As a veterinary technician we can take the stress out of trying to figure out how much to feed.

If available, use a brochure that discusses the new food. It is helpful to have something to read when they get home, so they can understand the importance of the weight loss program. Have everyone in the house read the brochure, so everyone follows the plan. 

Follow up is important to address any concerns and ensure compliance. Make sure the pet owner know you are there to help them through the journey of getting their pet to a healthy weight. Celebrate successes, but do not reprimand if the pet does not lose weight. Technicians can assist the pet owner with a weight loss program and help with successful weight loss. I never scold or make the owner feel they are a bad owner. Today is day one of getting back on track to getting the weight off and getting the pet to a healthier weight. We are here to help the pet reach their goal weight.

 

How I have avoided Compassion Fatigue

Blog Author: Erin Spencer, M.Ed., CVT, VTS (ECC)

NAVTA President

 

Let me start by saying I am no expert on how to avoid compassion fatigue. I am, however, someone who has worked almost her whole career in areas of the field that are known to bring on compassion fatigue – emergency and critical care, field medicine in underserved, poor communities, and, most recently, a different type of risk for compassion fatigue, teaching college students. Man, those students are so amazing and so tiring (sorry to all my students-you are fabulous and I love you). 

 

Recently, I was reflecting on how I have escaped compassion fatigue while so many others around me have been impacted. The kernel that came to me was, frankly, a surprise. It was my compassion. Isn’t that what causes the fatigue? Yes, but compassion has layers and this is the key to how compassion has been a strength for me. 

 

There is the being kind layer. Super important but super tiring, especially when the kindness isn’t returned. There is the sympathy layer. Feeling sorry for an individual’s situation leads us to want to help them, right?  Again, that takes a lot of work and effort. But here is what I feel is the key to why I have not had the fatigue that comes along with being compassionate. My empathy. When I am being faced with a client who is treating me poorly or causing frustration, I try to put myself in their shoes. Where is this coming from? Do they really think we are just out to get money or are they feeling guilty because they can’t afford the treatment?  Are they really continuing treatment on a suffering animal because they are selfish or is it because they think they caused their animal’s illness and their guilt won’t allow them to quit on their beloved pet? 

 

Putting myself in their shoes allows me to not take the crappy situations personally and allows me to understand where someone is coming from. I am less likely to make judgment calls about clients and co-workers which causes less anger and stress. Don’t get me wrong, these situations still make me sad and I definitely do not agree with every client decision but it does allow me to move past it. It also allows me to approach the situation with the client from a different perspective which can often lead to an outcome that I can agree with. Again, I’m no expert. This is just what I have found works for me. I hope it can help someone else along the way, but if you are struggling with compassion fatigue, please reach out. It can be a co-worker, a mental health professional, or even me (I’m serious. This is not an empty offer). Talking to someone makes it real and is the first step to turning things around. 

 

Be kind, be empathetic, and be there for each other. 

 

 

Allow Yourself to Take Care of You

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

NAVTA Immediate Past President

 

We chose this profession to help animals and the people who love them. We are caregivers. What we did not expect was the emotional toll that results from the day to day work in our profession. We are empathetic – but with this empathy comes suffering, as we feel the feelings of our clients, our coworkers, day after day. We experience their fears. Charles Figley states, “Eventually, we lose a certain spark of optimism, humor, and hope. We tire. We aren’t sick, but we aren’t ourselves.” 

 

Compassion fatigue or vicarious traumatization often develops over time, especially in our profession - sometimes taking weeks or possibly years to surface. Our ability to feel and care for others erodes as we continually use our compassion skill. Compassion stress is breaking through those boundaries that we have established. I have seen what is referred to as emotional blunting – going through the motions and reacting differently than you typically do or differently than expected.

 

We deny that this could ever happen to us…until it does. It is difficult for empathetic and giving people to admit that their needs are important too.  We feel guilty when we realize there is a limit to compassion. So, what happens? We downplay our own stress, discomfort, and fatigue.

 

This has to change! Let’s show strength by taking care of ourselves – so we can continue to be there for our patients, our clients, our coworkers, our family, and our friends. Let’s turn our compassion inward. Take a mental health day, talk to a friend about your feelings, find other interests aside from veterinary medicine. Let’s change the perception of self-care and allow ourselves to practice self-care. Self-care is strength, and strength is beautiful. 

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incompleteJack Kornfield

 

 

Name it to Tame it!  

Blog Author: Rebecca Rose, CVT

NAVTA Wellbeing Task Force Co-Chair

 

It is unfortunate the number of veterinary team members experiencing Burnout or Compassion Fatigue or both. I feel the most difficult part is for an individual to determine what they are experiencing, to properly name it, then tame it. 

 

In 2001 I attended a program organized by the Humane Society of the United States. At the time the idea of compassion fatigue was related to the stress experienced by team members performing euthanasias. Since then, there is a much broader understanding of the trauma and stress veterinary teams withstand. 

 

For me, a light-bulb (A-ha moment) went on a few years ago to help me differentiate between the two. I knew burnout was related to the workplace and compassion fatigue was related to what we do. Seems simple enough, but it wasn’t until I was working with service dogs supporting folks suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) did I get it! It was the application and consideration of trauma that made the difference.

 

Now, this is what I understand and help to convey to veterinary teams. 

 

Burnout is related to the work environment, the place where you work, or the circumstances around your career. As an example, you may dread going to work because the team is inefficient, there is little accountability, or appropriate systems are not in place to support a satisfactory work environment. The workplace and management. 

While in the state of burnout at one clinic you choose to find a new place of employment with an efficient team, accountability and systems, then your career can get back on track and there could be job satisfaction and joy in your work days. This reflects your understanding and feelings around leadership and management. The culture.

 

Compassion Fatigue is related to the trauma experienced in the care we provide. As examples, a veterinary team member may not be able to endure another day with a sick kitten, or the anxiety of a pet parent coping with a pet with cancer, or the thought of having to discuss an economic euthanasia with a client. 

 

Regardless of the work environment, the trauma is constant to the person who is unable to cope with even the “normal” every day circumstances and feels like it’s a constant barrage. That is because compassion fatigue is related to the work we do, incorporating thoughts and perceptions that we may have about the specific challenges.   

Identifying the fatigue and learning how to cope and maintain perspective for the daily trauma is the way to get through the day. 

 

These examples seem to help some team members. Most often teams can easily identify the things that are making them anxious at work and label it as caused by burnout (management) or fatigue (trauma). 

 

Burnout                                                                       Fatigue

Understaffed                                                                 Performing economic euthanasias

Clients inability to pay                                                   Clients inability to pay

Lack of accountability                                                   Have to save them all

Toxic team member                                                      Inability to treat to the highest standard 

No protocols in place                                                    Reoccurring traumatic dream 

Working too much overtime

 

Now may be a good time for you to create your own list. Answer the question, “Related to work, what makes me anxious?” Then place your answers into the Burnout or Compassion Fatigue category. Once you name it you can figure out how to tame it! 

 

You may be interested in learning more because this is just the tip of the iceberg! Read AAHA’s Guide to Veterinary Practice Team Wellbeing. http://catalystvetpc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/AAHA-Guide-Team-Wellbeing.pdf

 

 

When compassion fatigue and burnout coexist

Blog Author: Jade Velasquez, LVT

NAVTA PR Committee Chair

 

Compassion fatigue and burnout have always been a part of veterinary medicine. I am encouraged that the days of being told to “suck it up” are being replaced by discussions of our emotional health. So many of us have experienced these drains on our mental health but didn’t know what it was. By education and exploring ways to combat these issues we can ensure we have a long, successful career in vet med. 

 

Compassion fatigue is characterized by being introduced to emotional trauma repeatedly. We over use our emotional reserves until there just isn’t anything left.  It comes from internal stressors. We begin to stop caring as much for others and ourselves. Burnout is just as detrimental but comes from external stressors. Working long hours, no breaks/lunches and high case loads are a few of stressors that come from burnout. These two issues can be experienced separately, or together.

 

Throughout my career I have experienced both issues. Both have similar symptoms such as withdrawal, depression, anxiety and the lack of connection to others. When I worked emergency medicine, I could feel myself losing my love for my profession. I worked night shifts, saw cases that would rip my heart out, was called every name in the book by angry clients, was a new mother, and focused all my energy into work. I lived in a perpetual state of physical and mental exhaustion. The worst part was that I felt completely alone in my struggles. 

 

How did I begin to heal? For me, that meant leaving ER because I couldn’t emotionally handle the trauma I saw. There are cases that haunt me to this day. My schedule was out of whack and I lost track of the days. I worked, slept when I could, and repeated. That’s it. I went into general practice and began to set personal boundaries. Taking breaks and eating are so important. I would stay late when I could, but it didn’t have to be on every shift. Self-care is key. We must listen to our bodies. 

 

If you are hungry, make time to eat. Hydrate. Find time to take care of you. Don’t keep overextending yourself and then wonder why you are exhausted. Focus on a good sleep schedule. Do things outside of work that you enjoy doing. As annoying as it is to read blogs that we should eat healthier, exercise and minimize stress there is science behind it. If our cup is empty, we cannot care for ourselves. When we lose our ability to care for ourselves, we cannot be there for our patients. If you are struggling, reach out and get help. Try and find ways to restore the balance. Talk to a close friend. But know that you are not alone. 

 

Thank a mentor...

Blog Author: Ken Yagi, MS, RVT, VTS (ECC) (SAIM) 

NAVTA President Elect

 

“And do you like it?” she asked when she heard that I had been working as a veterinary technician after dropping out of vet school, which made me realize just how much joy I found in being a veterinary technician. 

“I had never thought that was an option for someone like me”, I said to her when she suggested that I present a case report at IVECCS, which led to me finding my passion in sharing knowledge and the snowballing of my career as a speaker.

“Try wearing that scenario by imagining someone else being in that position”, she advised me when I was at a crossroads and was considering applying for a new position, or not. 

These are just a few of my brief conversations that I have had with someone I consider my “mentor”. There are likely various ways to define what a mentor is and how these relationships develop. Those that I consider my mentors have influenced me at various points in my life and likely don’t know how much each of these moments have meant to me. They are always set out to bring the best in people.

The greatest (or debatably difficult) part about all these interactions is that mentors will never really give you the “right” answer to your challenges. There will be suggestions made and questions asked that make you think harder about the situation from different perspectives, encouraging clarity and giving a gentle nudge to decide. Because you make your own decisions, you can take ownership of the path taken. 

I’ve tried thanking these individuals for how they have impacted my life and it is always met with humility. I still keep messages from years ago, such as “All I did was recognize the beautiful shiny object in the water, I did not create it nor am I to credit for its ongoing brilliance.” I remember being told “Will you stop thanking me? If you really feel like I did so much for you, then do the same for the next person.” 

And while I will likely never be even half the wonderful mentors each of these people are, I strive to create opportunities in which others can realize their potential and look internally so that they can further their own passions and purposes.

Nancy and Harold – I am who I am because of your guidance, though you would never accept the credit. I am lucky to be able to call you a friend. Thank you.

 

Mentorship

Blog Author: Erin Spencer, M.Ed., CVT, VTS (ECC)

NAVTA President

 

The author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, says that a mentor/mentee relationship can’t be manufactured. You can’t just ask someone to be your mentor and hope for a successful relationship. The relationship has to grow organically. She says that mentors often choose proteges that they see excelling in the work place. In my case, I didn’t realize my mentor was my mentor until we no longer worked side by side every day. I also don’t think he realized he was my mentor, until maybe recently when I explicitly said it in an email.  I’ve had the same experience twice. Veterinary technicians that have said “you’re like a mentor to me” and my reaction (in my head) is “really, I didn’t realize we had that type of relationship?” It seems we could all be viewed as mentors without realizing it. So, how does that work?

 

Well, let’s go back to my mentor, who I don’t think knew he was my mentor. While I was there, he taught me about budgets, managing people, handling difficult situations, how to run a meeting…nothing to do with being a veterinary technician, right?  Well, that’s because he wasn’t a veterinary technician. He was a business guy who took a job as our hospital’s Chief Operating Officer. He helped me learn how to advance my career into management. I have been gone from that job for 7 years this month, yet I have continued to look to him for guidance over the years. We have had lunch a few times over those years and discuss how my career is going but I don’t think I ever reached out to him specifically for advice until a few months ago. In the intervening time, I drew on my previous experiences working with him, learning from him, and observing how he workedto help me make decisions in my new roles. I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that my management style and successes in my career are heavily due to his influence. 

 

 I feel like that is the crux of a good mentor. Someone who leads by example to demonstrate to their mentee how to be successful. While helping them prepare for new challenges, finding new opportunities for them, and offering advice and encouragement is important, it is living your best self every day so that people want to learn from you and are able to do so whether you are actively teaching or not. He might not ever see this but I would like to say a big thank you to Matthew Pearson for all he has done for me (even if he didn’t know he was doing it). 

 

 

National Mentor Month

Blog Author: Harold Davis, BA., RVT, VTS (ECC) (Anesthesia & Analgesia)

NAVTA Member at Large 

 

January is recognized as National Mentoring month.  During this month a campaign is held to promote youth mentoring in the United States. A mentor is a senior or more experienced individual who acts as an advisor, counselor, or guide to a junior or trainee. The mentor is responsible for providing support to, and feedback on, the individual in his or her charge.

 

Have you ever been a mentor or mentee? I have had the pleasure and honor of being a mentor and in some cases I didn’t even know I was viewed as a mentor.  Working in a teaching environment I was placed in the position of being a mentor.  In some situations, veterinary students and veterinary technicians sought me out and others simply observed from afar.  Traditionally, the mentor teaches, answers questions, provides guidance and support. In non-traditional ways the “mentee” may model your actions and behavior.  I have used all those techniques when I have been the mentee.  I have had the honor of working directly with several and a few I met at conferences where they were lecturers or workshop leaders.  In those instances, they provided encouragement, and motivation which fueled my drive to become a better veterinary technician. 

 

Many times, I have had individuals come up to me and unbeknownst to me, tell me how I have impacted their career and thank me.  I have also had situations where veterinary technicians who work with veterinarians I taught, tell me the veterinarian said they should come hear me lecture as they learned so much from me as veterinary students. Apparently, I fueled their drive to become better veterinary technicians or veterinarians.  One of my proudest moments as a mentor was when a group of veterinary technicians that I mentored through the emergency and critical care specialty certification process passed the examination and became Veterinary Technician Specialists.

 

I enjoy sharing my knowledge and being supportive of others.  It is my way of giving back to the profession.  It is my hope that those I have mentored pass it forward.

 

One of the highlights of National Mentor Month is “Thank Your Mentor Day”.  I know the good feeling I have when I find out that I have helped someone achieve their goal.  I’m not sure who is happier, me or them. I feel it is important to let my mentors know what they have helped me to achieve and to thank them for their support. Several years ago, I received a service award and one of my mentors was in the audience.  After I received the award, I went to him and told him thank you for all he had done and how he helped shape my career. His response was “you did it all yourself, I was happy to be a witness to your growth”.  I am glad I had the opportunity to tell him what he meant to me because shortly after we spoke, he passed away.  I was thankful I seized the moment to share with him how appreciative I was of his mentorship.  If you were ever a mentee, take a moment to say thank you to the mentor that impacted your life.  If you are a mentor know that you are being given an invaluable gift, to incite change and growth in another human being, an awesome opportunity.  

 

Happy National Mentor Month…have you thanked your mentor?

 

 

What is a Mentor?

Blog Author: Jamie Rauscher, RVT

NAVTA Secretary

 

A mentor is defined as “an experienced and trusted advisor to someone.” I believe that a true mentor is so much more than that. A mentor is not only an advisor, but a friend as well. 20 years ago, I met my mentor who has since become one of the most important people in my life.  My practice owner started out years ago as my boss…over the years she has become one of my most trusted confidants and closest friends. We have formed a relationship that has allowed us to be open and honest with each other. We are able to give each other feedback on our life situations, whether personal or professional, and know that the feedback is impartial and sincere. As a teacher, she has always been willing to step back and let me learn, make mistakes and grow from them. She truly enjoys her career and being able to teach someone something new gives her joy. She is my biggest advocate and supporter in life, both personally and professionally. Always willing to listen, she is a great resource for me to bounce things off of and know that she will be truthful in her feedback. The special thing about our mentor/mentee relationship is that we have been growing it for two decades. We are always tweaking it and molding it to both of our needs. At this point in our lives, our relationship together has grown so much that we are often on the same page about many things in our lives, from our day to day work interactions to our family lives. But, in the end, we still depend on each other to keep both of us on our toes and make sure we are doing things that are beneficial to us, always growing and never accepting the fact that we cannot learn and do more than we already do. 

 

Is that the case with all mentor relationships? No.  Many people have mentors that help to guide them in purely a professional manner, advising or training them in a certain area of expertise.  A mentor helps to develop a partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn.  Why does this relationship just have to be professional? Why cannot it be personal as well? Does it end up being more of a personal relationship in the long run than a work relationship? We spend so much time each day with the people we work with, sometimes more than the time we spend with our family. The people we work with become a different type of family to us, allowing us to continue the relationships long past the end of the work day. 

 

Everyone can be a mentor in their own way. I believe that a mentor should be someone who is honest, a good teacher and patient. A mentor needs to be someone who is able to devote time to the person they are mentoring and allow them to be a part of their life in more than just a professional setting. Needing a mentor does not stop just because the work day ends. People seeking mentorship need it 24/7, 365 days of the year. Being able to devote time to being a mentor is not something everyone can do all of the time. Depending on our lives and schedules, being a mentor is something only a select set of people can accomplish. You need to be able to devote the time to the person as they need it, not as you deem fit. Everyone is different and the needs of your mentee will vary depending on the situation.  

 

Are you a good mentor? Sit back and evaluate yourself. Be honest. Are you the best person to teach the one you are mentoring? Can you do more? Could you do better? We all can. Let’s try for that in 2019. To be the best we can be so others can benefit from our teaching and grow themselves to be better people. 

 

 

Mentorship

Blog Author: Jade Velasquez, LVT

NAVTA PR Committee Chair

 

I have been so fortunate to have so many mentors who have encouraged, supported and invested in me throughout my career. When I first came into veterinary medicine, I worked in a small general practice. I was so excited to learn everything I could and become proficient in my technical skills. I moved from general practice to a busy emergency hospital. I instantly felt like a really small fish in a really big pond. It became apparent how much I didn’t know and I almost lost hope for a minute. Becoming a skilled technician seemed unobtainable. Then one of my doctors took me under her wing and invested her time in me. 

Dr. Lori Bradshaw was so patient with me as I fumbled to find my place in the field. She explained cases, disease processes and gave me advice to further improve my skills. She would walk me through intense surgery cases that I felt completely unqualified to monitor anesthesia on. As she invested her time and knowledge in me, I noticed that not only did we form a mentor/mentee relationship, we formed a true friendship. We laughed together, confided in each other and even cried together. With this friendship, she allowed me to make mistakes and fumble, but was always there to talk me through things. 

Dr. Bradshaw and I haven’t worked together in years. But her impression on me changed who I was as a person and as a technician. Instead of being frustrated with newly graduated technicians, I am excited about their thirst for knowledge. I do my best to encourage, be a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. I am excited to share my knowledge; brain storm and teach everyone I work with. By taking the time to teach me, my mentor had shaped who I would become as a future mentor.

When we develop and build a mentor/mentee relationship we allow ourselves to learn and grow. Not only does that create confident technicians and team members, it creates future leaders. I would never be the technician or the person I am without the guidance of a kind ER doctor who saw something in me that I didn’t see myself. Share your knowledge, skills and gifts with your team. Help them on their journey to excel and grow. Cheer them on. We all need someone to believe in us when we don’t believe in ourselves. Be that person who reminds people of their value and help shape our future. Thank those before you by passing the torch. 

 

Final Thoughts…

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

NAVTA President

 

“As we look to the New Year hold on to what is good. Let go of what is bad. It really is that simple.” – Mandy Hale

 

It is hard to believe that 2018 is coming to a close! Think back to January – what did you want to accomplish? Did you have a resolution for 2018? In January, I asked all of us to consider making a difference that is positive and uplifting. Did you? Did I? 

 

NAVTA went through a tremendous amount of change in 2018. A lot of difficult decisions had to be made. But throughout 2018 I believe the NAVTA Board made a difference for our members and the profession. It is evident that pets and pet owners are best protected and cared for by formally trained and credentialed veterinary technicians/nurses. NAVTA spoke to the leaders of the veterinary profession at the Banfield Pet Health Industry Summit and focused on how our profession – veterinary nurses/technicians – can and should be utilized at the top of our credentials. True team utilization will help drive revenue, increase morale, and ultimately is what is best for our patients. 

 

NAVTA finalized new guidelines for the Committee on Veterinary Technician Specialties. These guidelines offer cross functional representation from the specialty academies and from the veterinary profession. Additionally, The Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Diagnostic Imaging was recognized as the 16thveterinary technician specialty in 2018.

 

NAVTA provided two veterinary leadership summits in 2018 and are preparing for our 2019 summits. These provide professional development education, networking, and discussion surrounding the state of the profession.

 

NAVTA renewed our relationship with the Registered Veterinary Technologists and Technicians of Canada (RVTTC). In 2001, our organizations collaborated and developed a Letter of Agreement between NAVTA and RVTTC with the goal to work for the advancement and recognition of the veterinary technology profession. As both organizations have developed and experienced transition and growth since that time, the RVTTC and NAVTA joined in an opportunity to renew this letter re-affirming our collaboration in the on-going development of our profession.

 

These are just a few of the things NAVTA worked on this year, while simultaneously working to determine the future of NAVTA and the best way forward for our association. 

 

Did you make a difference? Yes. In regard to your profession, I have heard from you – NAVTA’s members. I heard the discussions. I see the passion. I have listened and your feedback has been invaluable to the board and to our profession. 

 

Do we all agree on every point? No. Does that make us stronger? Yes. In January, I asked you to make 2018 the year each of us focuses on listening and lifting each other up. Together we have moved our profession forward and have made quite a difference! 

 

As we move into 2019, I send you an Irish blessing, “May the dreams you hold dearest be those which come true, and the kindness you spread keep returning to you.”

 

 

 

A Heartfelt Thank You 

Blog Author: Mary Berg, BS, RLATG, RVT, VTS (Dentistry)

NAVTA Immediate Past President

 

I was going through some quotes to find one that helped me sum up how I feel about my time on the NAVTA executive board, both as a member at large and the President, and nothing jumped out at me, waved its arms and screamed use me!  I found a lot of quotes that I could relate to, and I could have written this entire blog using those quotes, but no one needs to read that, so I guess the best option is to speak from the heart.

 

What a ride this has been!  It wasn't always easy, in fact at times it down right stunk having to make tough decisions some of which cost good friendships. What many people may not realize is that when being on a board, you are one of many and not alone in making judgements and that all decisions must be made within the best interest of the organization.  Not everyone is going to agree with decisions that are made, but once a judgement is made, board members must uphold the outcome.  On the flipside, NAVTA is continuing to move upward.  I’m not going to list all the things that have happened while on the board because none were sole endeavors, it takes a team to accomplish goals and to continue to move forward.  Over the last five years, the board has revitalized committees into highly functioning committees and task forces, but there is still improvement to be made.  My personal favorites are the completion of the new CVTS guidelines and creation of a new committee structure as well as the Wellbeing Task Force.

 

As NAVTA continues to grow and move in a positive direction, I encourage you all to get involved.  Maybe your involvement is being a member, writing an article for the journal, perhaps it's serving on a committee, or even running for the executive board.  I would love to see every veterinary technician/nurse in the U.S. being a member of NAVTA and really making this organization one of the strongest in the veterinary arena.  Don't forget to get involved in your state or local level too!  It's a great way to get your feet wet before jumping into the big pond! Involvement helps with networking and possible advancements in your own career.  Maybe you’ll meet the right person who needs help with a project or a new career option.  You never know where networking can take you.  

 

Ok, so here is one quote: “Stop asking yourself what you want, what you desire, what interests you.  Ask yourself instead: what has been given to me, what do I have to give back.  And then give it.”  Author unknown.  

 

Alright, so I lied, here’s another one!  “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the (insert profanity) story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it!”  Jordan Belfort

 

I have learned so much, and hopefully, I have made a difference in our chosen profession. Thank you for allowing me to serve you these past five years on the executive board of NAVTA.  It has honestly been my pleasure, and I look forward to continuing to give back.

 

A Year Can Change Many Things

Blog Author: Ken Yagi, MS, RVT, VTS (ECC) (SAIM)

NAVTA Member at Large

 

Scrolling through my timeline on Facebook over the past year, I thought “A year really can change many things.” Never would I have imagined that I would be leaving the hospital in California I’ve been at for 18 years to be working at Cornell to apply my clinical knowledge in simulation work. Never would I have thought that I’d be able to take on a role in establishing RECOVER CPR as a standard around the world. Never did I expect that I would be delving into legislative efforts and learning more about politics alongside my colleagues.

 

Regardless, these changes did happen over the short course of a year, and I’ve learned quite a bit over the process. One should never let fear be the reason to stay put. New territory is going to be uncomfortable to venture into, but if you know that it will serve a purpose in the world, then stepping into it is going to make you grow. Figuring out what needs to be done, gaining new skills, and working with others with different skill sets that as a team, will accomplish great things.

 

Whether it is going back to school to obtain that degree, announcing to your team that you are going to pursue VTS certification and asking for their help to gain experience, presenting a case report at a conference, presenting your idea to your manager to put you into a trainer role, suggesting an anesthetic plan to your doctor, or placing an intraosseous catheter in a patient for the first time after practicing on models; putting yourself forward to new challenges will push you to new limits.

 

When considering large changes, one may ask “How do I know this is the right thing?” To answer it, we would do the due diligence to gather as much information as possible to weigh the pros and cons, consider other similar options, talk to our mentors and friends, and then toss and turn in bed not being able to be 100% sure if it is “the right thing”. The truth is – You sometimes don’t know until you get there. Life is a long journey and trying things out to find the right thing for you is going to be necessary. I hope you are keeping yourselves challenged too.

 

Through such a thought process was how I ended up moving from California to Ithaca, New York, and I absolutely am loving the challenge. But really… what is this weird white stuff that keeps falling from the skies and covering the ground…?

 

 

Lessons Learned

Blog Author: Erin Spencer, M.Ed., CVT, VTS (ECC)

NAVTA President Elect

 

When I ran for President-Elect last year, I had a very solid idea of what my “prep” year would look like. I was following in the footsteps of Mary Berg as the Immediate Past President and Kara Burns as President. Who wouldn’t love that?  I would learn so much from them and together we would make NAVTA the most influential organization on the planet!  

Ok, maybe I got a bit carried away.  But I had big dreams for where NAVTA can go and had looked forward to 2018 being a launching point for that. Sometimes things don’t always go as planned and 2018 turned out to be a year of reflection, reevaluation, and reorganization for NAVTA. However, I still was able to learn a lot from Mary and Kara and had the bonus of our interim Executive Director, Lisa Perius’ valuable experience. 

As I was working through this time of change and opportunity with NAVTA, I was also dealing with a time of change and opportunity with my actual job. The college I teach at abruptly announced it would close at the end of the Spring 2018 semester. I’ll save you the ensuing drama that occurred over the next several months, but I am now working in the same place under a new university. Things are the same for now day to day but there are a lot of differences and they will only increase over time. I have had to do a lot of thinking about next steps for myself both in agreeing to stay on with the program for this year and what my future holds. 

As we move towards 2019, the most important lesson I feel I have learned is that the right decisions are not always the easy or popular ones. This sounds cliché and, to tell you the truth, I thought I had already learned this lesson and understood it well, but it turns out it hadn’t really sunk in.  After being faced with big decisions that affected either NAVTA’s future or my own future, I feel that sentiment is now firmly ingrained now. 

My goal for 2019, is to take what we have learned in the last year and get back to the task of creating a NAVTA that can continue to thrive and grow. Sustaining that goal means continuing to make those right but not always easy decisions. I am excited to work alongside the other members of the 2019 Executive Board to do the hard work that is needed to come to those decisions. 

 

Gratitude

Blog Author: Beth Green, RVT

NAVTA Member at Large

 

Gratitude. What exactly does it mean? I mean we can all make a list of what we are grateful for, but does that change how we walk through life? 

 

I am grateful for many things, but do I live gratefully? Why do we dwell on the things we are not grateful for? The things we cannot change or, worse yet, did change but still can’t let go, like past hurts. As people, I think it is in our nature to settle in a negative place. We’re like cows ruminating our negative thoughts and experiences. 

 

We see so many aspects of life, both dark and light. But in every dark moment, a light can be found. What does that look like – I think to everyone it is something different. Gratitude can live in each and every moment. We see it in: who we have become as a result of our personal struggles, a client bringing you flowers or a thoughtful card when they hear about your own pet that is ill, a happy puppy in the lobby on a busy day, a dying stray that never knew love until you held it, holding an owner’s hand when she is scared for her cat. If you look, it’s there. 

 

The gratitude is there and will wash over you even when you least expect it.

 

 

Being Thankful

Blog Author: Jade Velasquez, LVT

NAVTA PR Committee Chair

 

I’ve been a part of veterinary medicine for 17 years. There have been ups and downs. There have been times that I have wanted to quit. There have been times that I have been burnt out and wasn’t sure if I had anything left to give. In those times, I always came back to one mindset. I came back to being thankful. Being thankful is what has always gotten me through. 

 

I am thankful for my skillset. My ability to do my job and push on saved countless animals and helped even more. Placing a catheter can seem routine. Pulling blood work can become trivial. Giving medication can become second nature. But all these tasks along with many others make a difference in our patients’ every day. Some of our patients go home and lead long lives with their families. Some take their last breaths warm and surrounded by those that love them. Even if that means I am that last face that they see. For that I am thankful.

 

I am thankful for my clients. The clients who come through the door and place their trust in me and my team. They do what they can for their pets. Sometimes we become part of their family. Maybe they teach us not to judge a book by it’s cover. Or maybe they teach us that all we can do is the best we can within their finances. They teach us not to judge. I thank them for all the lessons and for making me realize the importance of communication and trust.

 

I am thankful for every team mate I have worked with. Whether they mentored me, taught me new skills or tried to tear me down they have taught me about myself. They pointed me to the mindset of always learning, growing and persevering. I’ve made friends, formed bonds and had people who showed me my true potential. I thank them for every lesson.

 

Life is full of the unexpected. It is full of opportunities, struggles, blessings and even failures. But all these things allow us to become better people and better technicians. Find your silver lining. Be thankful for what you have achieved and overcome. Appreciate the bad times with the good. Go to bed every night finding what you are thankful for. Some days it is easier to find that than others. But always go back to being thankful and appreciating the small and not so small moments. 

 

 

Thank you…

Blog Author: Mary Berg, BS, RLATG, RVT, VTS (Dentistry)

NAVTA Immediate Past President

 

We go through our careers and things happen to us. Those experiences made me what I am. – Thomas Keller.  This quote sums up so much of my career in veterinary technology and nursing.  I am so grateful for the experiences I have been given, both good and bad, that have helped me grow and given me the confidence to continue to pursue my passion for this field.  I have taken risks and been given opportunities, many of which scared the daylights out of me, that allowed me to share my love for veterinary medicine, especially veterinary dentistry, with clients and thousands of veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants and veterinarians over the years.

 

The advancement of veterinary technology/nursing is so important to me and I wanted to find ways to serve the profession. I have had the incredible opportunity to give back to the profession by speaking, teaching and serving on multiple boards and committees relating to veterinary medicine.  

 

I have had excellent role models in my life that I strive to emulate by serving these capacities.  First, my parents, Stanley and Elizabeth Salfer, were involved in many community organizations and instilled the importance of giving back to your community through volunteering.  Dr. John Hefferren and Dr. Ellen Lowery gave me an opportunity early in my career to work in veterinary dental research and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. There are so many veterinarians and fellow veterinary technicians that have helped, encouraged and advised me along the way that I can’t possibly mention you all and if I tried I know I’d miss someone, and I’d feel terrible.  You all have meant so much to me over the years.  Lastly, I need to thank my husband and family for understanding my crazy career and travel schedule.  I couldn’t do this without a strong support system at home.  

 

Now before I get all blubbery, (too late) I need to close this by thanking you for believing in me and allowing me to serve as both a member at large and president of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.  This is such a wonderful and fulfilling profession, filled with very passionate individuals, it has been my pleasure to serve all of you.  

 

 

National Vet Tech Week

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

NAVTA President

 

I hope each and every one of you had a phenomenal National Veterinary Technician Week. This annual celebration began in June 1993, when NAVTA’s Executive Board passed a resolution declaring the third week of October as National Veterinary Technician Week (NVTW). In 1996, President Bill Clinton sent a letter to the NAVTA executive board commending the efforts of the veterinary technician profession for our efforts in helping to heal our nation’s sick and injured animals, and thanking all veterinary technicians for our dedication. In 2018, many governors across our nation issued proclamations naming the third week in October, Veterinary Technician Week for the particular state. I think this is pretty amazing! 

 

As President of NAVTA, I too want to reach out and thank each and every veterinary technician/veterinary nurse. I truly hope your team and co-workers recognized you and the work that you do. We did not join this profession for the money or for accolades; but it is uplifting when others do recognize what we bring to the team and the work that we do, day in and day out. 

 

Thank you for everything you do – helping pets, providing comfort to the pet parent, educating your colleagues and pet owners, providing perspective on the future of the profession, and for choosing what I believe to be the best profession in the world. Steve Jobs said “People with passion can change the world for the better”. Thank you for making the veterinary nurse profession the best!

 

 

 

NVTW: Why this is the best profession EVER!  

Blog Author: Beckie Mossor, RVT

NAVTA Secretary and SCNAVTA Committee Chair

 

When I was a kid,I remember listening to a song called “Happiness Is” by Ray Conniff, if you'reinterested in a walk down memory lane or at least a fun earwighere you go, https://youtu.be/tFB2dk5tNqg. The song is about the different ways’ happiness manifests to different people for different reasons. So, when you ask me, why this is the best profession EVER, I think about this song because this profession is the best profession for different reasons fordifferent people.

 

When I ask students and other technicians why they are entering or did enter this field I get a variety of answers. Some are driven to carry on a family tradition in veterinary medicine, some had a pet that they cared for through illness or lost due to an illness. Some have a passion for medicine, animals, or animal welfare. Everyone has a different story of how they got here and why they stay. And that to me is one of the things that makes this the best profession ever.

 

We have a “coat of many colors” profession where our trade and our skills are utilized vastly and growing more every day. We have avenues to specialize, to stay generalized, or to innovate a path of our own. 

 

We use our hearts, our hands (and sometimes any body part you need to use to get the job done) and our minds. We work in teams; wework independently, we work as a profession. We are growing, we are learning, and we are reaching new heights.

 

Veterinary medicine is full of the most passionate individuals I know. We are working to change a culture, to educate the world, and to better the lives of every animal we come across or have the opportunity to help. We give ourselves 100% every day,andwe come back for more over and over. 

 

We are some the strongest, most compassionate, and hardest working people I have ever met, and I could not be more proud today, and every day, to call myself a veterinary professional and to share this profession with the amazing people who have given their allfor animals. Thank you all for what you do, for who you are, and for those you help. Happy NVTW!

 

 

NVTW 2018

Blog Author: Michelle Krasicki-Aune, CVT

NAVTA Treasurer 

 

I’m not going lie, when I was asked to write this piece, I got just a LITTLE BIT EXCITED!!!  Want to know why? Well, for starters, I FREAKING LOVE NATIONAL VET TECH WEEK!  You know those people that start planning for Halloween in January, or the people that plan for Christmas in July?  Well those are my people, but instead of Halloween or Christmas, insert NATIONAL VET TECH WEEK. 

 

When I was in school, I was lucky enough to have instructors that were VERY involved and passionate about professional organizations at both the state and national levels, hence, part of our curriculum was unofficially learning to love and celebrate NVTW.  My pride and joy was earning a T-shirt that celebrated NVTW-which, as you can see, I still have (and for those of you that don’t know, I have been doing this for a LOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG time!). Fast forward to today: my kitchen table is nothing but varied types of boxes and bins, containing this year’s combination of candy, snacks, pens/markers/highlighters, and ‘special’ NVTW gifts - all that have been in planning for some time.  BUT this is NOT my favorite part of NVTW, my favorite part is answering this question (this year posed by our 8-year-old daughter): “But mom, why are YOU doing all of this? You’re a vet tech, shouldn’t someone be doing this for you??? It’s a week to celebrate you?!?!” 

 

My response: Yes, this is a week to recognize and celebrate all the Vet Techs out there!!!  It’s not about what others give me, it’s about what I can give them (insert reminder to use this phrase around Christmas with said child).  Every day I see the techs all around me giving a little bit of themselves to each and every patient and owner they work with, sometimes so much of themselves that all they are left with is tears. 

 

I see brilliant technicians working in research and laboratory facilities to help advance care and science for both owners and their pets, whose name is often never included in the study publication.  

 

I see dedicated techs standing in front of classrooms of students and conference rooms of seasoned professionals, opening their minds to share knowledge and wisdom, after late nights of grading and back to back red eye flights. 

 

I see tired, cold, and hungry techs helping with rescue efforts for those animals left abandoned and neglected, but never too tired or hungry to offer up part of their own meal to a malnourished animal.  

 

I see a group of giving, brilliant, dedicated, knowledgeable and humbled people doing a job that is complicated, challenging, frustrating, and rewarding. 

 

I see a million and one reasons to give each one of them small piece of my appreciation, admiration, and respect.  

 

My daughter’s response, “so you think they will like this candy?”  Yes, yes, they will, because regardless of what goody they choose (including this blog) they will also be receiving the best NVTW gift of all - a sincere THANK YOU from someone that has stood in their shoes.   

 

Happy National Veterinary Technician Week!

 

 

NVTW: Thank you Techs!

Blog Author: Jade Velasquez, LVT

NAVTA PR Committee Chair

 

There were many times as a technician that I didn’t feel appreciated. There were times when I would miss family events, recitals, student assemblies because I was working. There were times I got home just in time to microwave something for dinner right before I put my kid to bed. There were times that I came in early and stayed late without a single thank you from those that I worked with. I won’t lie, it really hurt. But there was a reward. 

 

The reward was seeing a parvo puppy walk out the door when we thought they weren’t going to make it a couple days before. It was seeing a patient who had spent weeks in the hospital wag their tail when their owners came to pick them up. It was when I went to a cage to flush an iv catheter and a sick cat would head butt my hand and start purring. These were my rewards and I cherished every single one of them. 

 

Our job can seem thankless at times. I hope that each of you truly receive the appreciation for the hard work you are doing every day. I hope that you hear the words “thank you” more often than you don’t. I hope that you are part of a team who supports you and values the dedication you have to your patients and clients. But if you don’t, I want you to know that our patients thank you for your time, dedication and effort. Our clients appreciate the work you put into giving the best care possible. I want you to realize that even though it may seem that no one may notice, YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE. 

 

With every patient you help, with every client you educate you are making an impact. With every team member you support and teach, you are changing their lives for the better. Because the actions we do every day can seem repetitive we often lose sight of all the magic we are making. All the miracles we are creating. We help heal, provide love and comfort and pour our hearts into our work at every opportunity. Thank you all for the things you do and know that you are always making a difference. Appreciation is a wonderful gift that we all deserve, and I hope you know how valued you are. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU DO. KEEP MAKING MAGIC.

 

 

National Veterinary Technician Week    

Blog Author: Mary Berg, BS, RLATG, RVT, VTS (Dentistry)

NAVTA Immediate Past President

 

The weather has cooled a bit, the days are getting shorter, pumpkin flavored everything is available, and the football season is in full swing.  This can only mean that Fall is here!! I love all seasons, but Fall is one of my favorites not only because the weather is cooler, but October brings National Veterinary Technician Week!  I love the fact that we have a week to celebrate our chosen profession!  I believe that veterinary technicians should be honored each day!  Technicians are the glue that holds the practice together by preparing patients for surgery, assisting the veterinarian in the exam, performing diagnostic tests, educating the clients on medications, treatments and preventatives and nursing patients back to health.  

 

Why do I love this profession so much?  Veterinary medicine allows me to combine my love for animals and medicine with my love of teaching.  Even though, I no longer work in practice, I loved educating clients about all aspects of their pet’s health, whether it be nutrition, preventatives, vaccines and of course, dentistry.  While in practice I could help a few animals each day, but now as a consultant, dental educator and author I can help thousands of pets get better care.  In addition, I get to help others find their passion and gain understanding that this is not just a job but a meaningful and rewarding career.  

What is your practice doing to celebrate NVTW?  On October 1st, the Kansas Veterinary Technician Association will be meeting the Kansas Governor to declare the third week of October as Kansas Registered Veterinary Technician Week.  I hope your clinic recognizes the hard work you do every day.  I can’t wait to see all the posts on social media! 

 

I’ve been honored to serve our profession as a board member and president of NAVTA and I am so excited to see where our profession goes as it continues to grow and develop.  Remember, it’s not just a job but a career!  

 

 

Human Animal Bond

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

NAVTA President

 

“My therapy is quite simple: I wag my tail and lick your face until you feel good about yourself again” Cartoonist Randy Glasbergen

 

Although this quote is the prescribed therapy of a cartoon dog – it rings true and all of us relate. Pets do not judge – they simply want to be with us, love us, and be loved by us. Jade, Jamie, and Erin have given us glimpses of this in their personal and professional lives. 

 

In society today, we need this type of prescription! There is so much anxiety and stress in our everyday world but research has showed us that pets help to ease suffering, alleviate depression and loneliness, and increase neurochemicals associated with relaxation.

 

I have had pets in my life for as long as I can remember. I gained my love of animals from my parents. My dad loved every creature, and I saw how much the love of a dog or cat or chicken helped him through serious health issues. 

 

I have also witnessed the benefits the human animal bond provides in my work as a psychologist. Having a furry family member helps individuals with depression. Pets’ love and loyalty are unparalleled in helping individuals to realize they are not alone in the world. I have often heard that a pet is the reason for continuing therapy or taking a medication. 

 

One of my favorite sayings is “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world”. I love this quote and I have also seen this related to animals. “….To one dog (or cat or bird or guinea pig), you may be the world.” For me it also rings true to say “To the world you may be one dog, but to one person you may be the world”.

 

Many of you have heard of Fribble – the best dog ever, or Ollie – the best cat ever, or yes, even Brees – the cute but not very intelligent dog.  They may be a dog or a cat, but to me and Ellen they are our world!

 

 

The Human Animal Bond…a lesson in compassion

Blog Author: Erin Spencer, M.Ed., CVT, VTS (ECC)

NAVTA President Elect

 

When most of us think of the human animal bond, I would wager to guess we get a warm and fuzzy image of the tattooed biker dude quietly telling his chihuahua how pretty she is. Or maybe the family lab who is included in everything from the couple’s wedding to the beach vacation where he runs all day on the beach with “his” kids, a smile in his eyes. Or maybe a sick individual whose pet is their most prominent caregiver. Yup, all of these illustrate what an amazing thing the human animal bond is. 

 

I have a slightly different image pop into my head when I picture this awesome bond. After spending the last 10 years traveling to underserved communities to provide free vet care, my idea of the human animal bond is the child who shows up 5 minutes after we pull into town to ask if we can make her puppy stop itching as she holds up a bald dog who clearly has sarcoptic mange. Or maybe the woman who is visibly worried about her pet having surgery but knows that having her spayed is going to improve her quality of life as a free-roaming dog. Or the man who breaks down and cries as we euthanize his dog because he can’t watch him suffer anymore but simply can’t afford even the gas to get the dog to a veterinary clinic that can provide the advanced care the pet needs. Many people see these scenarios and instantly pass judgement. “If you can’t afford to treat then you shouldn’t have pets.” I have heard colleagues say this in every practice I have ever worked and, until I started my field work, I never understood why I could never agree with that sentiment. 

 

Confession, I have been openly crying since I started writing the second paragraph. I’m not crying because of all the sad cases I see in these underserved, poverty-stricken communities. I am crying because the level of love that I see these people give these animals, sometimes sharing the one piece of pizza they found to eat that day with their dog (true story), is, quite simply, phenomenal. One of my RAVS co-workers often tells our volunteers when they arrive “It isn’t for us to judge the state of the animal when they arrive at our clinic. These people love their animals and they are here today. We are likely their only option.” I am so thankful to be able to provide an option to these communities and grateful for being a part of the power of the human animal bond in such a raw, yet beautiful, way. 

 

To learn more about Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) where Erin volunteers her time, visit https://www.ruralareavet.org/

 

 

The Human/Animal Bond…A special bond

Blog Author: Jamie Rauscher, RVT

NAVTA Membership Committee Chair

 

The Human-Animal Bond is defined as “a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both.”  How does this affect your staff on a daily basis? How are they involved in this process? What part do they play in this relationship?

 

Each day our lives begin and end with the relationships we build with our clients and their animals. Some of our interactions are brief, others extend past just an hour or two, developing into days or even years.  These help to mold the way we live our lives. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a family and become part of their Human-Animal Bond. The bond that started on that day will continue for many years to come.

 

Titan, a 4-year-old intact male German Shepard presented to my clinic last Wednesday morning, lateral and unresponsive. His owners had noticed that he was lethargic and did not want to eat, he was standing hunched up and panting as if painful, his gums were almost white.  After a physical exam and diagnostics were performed, it was determined that there was a mass that was bleeding into his abdomen. He was anemic and declining rapidly. His family had to make the decision for us to take him into surgery immediately, to find the source of the bleeding and stop it, or euthanize him. 

 

While waiting for the rest of the family to come to the clinic to be with Titan and his owner, his story came out.  In tears, his owner told us how they came to have Titan as part of their family. 4 years ago, their daughter who was 5 at the time, had lost a dog that was dear to her heart. After the dog had passed, she was devastated.  She drew pictures every day of herself and her dog Briscoe, with a big broken heart. An organization reached out to the family once they heard of their plight. They wanted to help mend her broken heart.  Titan became her “Make a Wish” pup. He flew Delta First Class from Waco Texas, with his own flight attendant. They became best friends. In the clinic, once the daughter found out Titan was sick, the first thing she said was “Please Mommy, he can’t die!”

 

The family made the difficult decision for us to take Titan into surgery. It was discovered that he had a splenic mass that was actively bleeding. Due to the mass, Titan had lost over 2 liters of blood and needed a blood transfusion. A donor dog was brought in by an employee and Titan received the blood transfusion he needed to save his life. The procedure was completed and he was moved into recovery for the afternoon. Talking to the owners after surgery brought tears all around. The family was immensely thankful for the staff’s efforts in saving Titan, thanking everyone, including the dog that donated blood to save Titan’s life by bringing him a card and a toy.  That evening, he walked out of the clinic to sleep in the bed of his best friend.

 

Each day, as veterinary professionals, we all get to be a part of our patient’s lives in one way or another.  Whether it’s helping to educate their owners, make them healthy or allow peace in their passing, our involvement is all part of their Human-Animal bond. The relationships our owners have with their pets are a beautiful thing and we are lucky to be a part of them. This special bond extends beyond just our clients and their pets, it involves all of us.

 

 

Human/Animal Bond: “That moment…”

Blog Author: Jade Velasquez, LVT

NAVTA PR Committee Chair

 

If you ask anyone in the veterinary field why they chose this profession, you will get a resounding answer: “I love working with animals.” Working with animals and being involved in healing them is why many of us chose to do what we do. It can be argued that the field chose us. We all knew we wouldn’t be rich. We all knew that we chose this field because it is the reason we breathe. We feel our sense of purpose is wound in helping these amazing creatures. But why?

 

I suppose we all have different reasons we knew this is what we were meant to do. For me, even as a small child I remember being drawn to animals. We always had pets growing up, but for me, the human animal bond can be summed up in one moment. 

 

I was a bit of a moody teenager. I was the goth kid in class. I lacked social skills and was horribly shy. The black lipstick didn’t help. Often, I would spend time locked in my room with a lit candle, listening to the Cure and wondering why nobody liked me. To put it mildly, I was bullied a lot. 

 

I remember spending one evening in my room (I think I was writing in my diary) crying because I was so miserable. I had a Manx cat I had since we took in a stray who lived in my dad’s Volkswagen van. She’d birthed a litter and I knew him since he was born. His name was Merlin. Somehow, some way Merlin knew I needed him. The sound of my emo rock music drowned out me hearing him pawing open the knob on my bedroom door. He jumped on my bed, nudged my tear stained face and began purring on my lap. In that moment, I knew. Animals have an unspeakable bond. They love us when we don’t love ourselves. They forgive us for our perceived failings. 

 

Today I still think of Merlin often. He made me understand the love and trust that can come from a single nudge. That moment of connection drove me to become a technician. To look in my patients’ eyes and know that they can trust me. These creatures never judge, and they just want to make us happy. Seeing a Labrador wag his tail at me when his radius/ulna has been fractured amazed me. We care for them and they will care for us. 

 

The bond we have with animals is one that is our gift on so many levels. To care for and love a creature with no words spoken is a true blessing. While I am no longer a moody teenager (I can still rock black lipstick like it never went out of style) the lessons I learned from Merlin have allowed me to become the person I was truly meant to be. A healer of the animals. That moment sparked who I was meant to be. We all have that moment. That is the moment the field chose us.

 

 

 

Take A Risk…#NAVTACareerAdvancementMonth

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

NAVTA President

 

“Take a risk and have the guts to seize the opportunity, because it may not present itself again.” Andrea Reiser

 

I love what I do!  Hopefully, that is clearly evident. This month’s blogs have been looking at opportunities within the veterinary nursing profession. And the opportunities are endless – truly they are only as limited as your outlook allows them to be.

 

You often have to step out of your comfort zone to seize those opportunities. I always wanted to pursue veterinary medicine – from a very young age. However, fate/life’s circumstances took me in another direction. I ended up in human medicine! Working as an emergency psychologist. Wait…what?? Exactly. I still wanted to be in veterinary medicine. So…I left my life as a psychologist to work as a veterinary assistant in pursuit of my veterinary technician credential.  This was a huge risk and a huge step out of what had become my comfort zone – leaving financial security, still having student loans for something that I was no longer employed in, etc. - you all know the risks. But I was so much happier! 

 

Life is all about seizing opportunities…or not. We have choices – and we have to be comfortable with the choices we make.

 

I had another major opportunity years later, but I had to leave my home and the state I loved so much – Maine. This risk/opportunity involved moving across the country to Kansas to pursue a position that I knew I would love. But how do I leave Maine??  Well, I did it – I pursued the opportunity and wound up happier than I thought was possible. Ultimately, I not only had the position I wanted, I also met the love of my life! Without taking the risk, this would not have happened. We can calculate every variable in our decisions, but there are some variables that will result that we were not expecting. “Feel the fear, and do it anyway” (a book by Susan Jeffers)! Do not let analysis paralysis prevent you from taking a risk and pursuing an opportunity. If you wait too long for the perfect moment, the perfect moment will pass right by you.

 

My education as a psychologist is just as useful today in every area of my life. I am a believer that no experience is wasted, education can always provide benefit. Every experience – positive or not so positive - in your life has contributed to the person you are today. If you want to take a course – do it! Do you want to pursue further education – Do it! The only thing holding you back is…you. Take a risk, your life will be much richer for it.

 

Each moment of every day we have the opportunity to learn and experience something new, someone new. Seize these opportunities. Learn and experience everything presented to you and everything you can. Then use this to change your world!

 

 

Never Say No to an Opportunity!

Blog Author: Mary Berg, BS, RLATG, RVT, VTS (Dentistry)

NAVTA Immediate Past President

 

Recently I was paging through Facebook and saw a post from a Veterinary Technician that had been fired from her position with little to no explanation of a reason.  She was devastated as you would expect but I was amazed at the support from other individuals that had been in the same situation but landed on their feet and found a better opportunity with a position that appreciated them.  I thought about this and realized that this has happened to me as well.

 

My story happened before I was involved in veterinary medicine.  My husband was in the Army and we moved all over the world prior to landing in the town I now refer to as home.  I had two young children and my husband was on the road a lot.  I had accepted a bookkeeping position in a small bookstore near the college campus that barely covered daycare costs, but I needed to be employed for my sanity!  I had a background in both management and a bookkeeping prior to taking this entry level position.  Needless to say, within a few days I wasn’t thrilled with the job and my coworkers and I were not a good “fit” but I thought everything was going fairly well so I was extremely surprised when about 2 weeks into the position, I was let go.  I was devastated as I had never been “fired” before.  I remember picking my boys up from daycare, sobbing and feeling like a complete failure. 

 

After wallowing in self-pity for a day or so, I realized it wasn’t me that was the problem in this situation. I had always had excellent employee reviews and had been awarded several honors in previous positions.  I continued to search for the perfect fit and I found it. I was offered a position as an administrative assistant with a small companion animal dental research company.  This company was owned by a PhD who realized my potential and always challenged me to grow, learn new skills and do things that scared me.  Including my first presentation at a veterinary conference and I was a nervous wreck, Dr. H came onto the stage, took the pointer from me and whispered, “everyone is getting motion sickness due to your shaking.” Boy, was I embarrassed!

 

Dr. H allowed me to continue to develop my presentation, management, leadership and veterinary skills while encouraging additional education in both Laboratory Animal Medicine and Veterinary Technology.  Thirteen years later, I was the Vice President of Operations when we mutually parted ways professionally.  Dr. H wanted to return to his roots in human dentistry and I just couldn’t go there!! (yuck, right!)  

 

At this point, I was asked to take a position in industry, but my children were in school and I didn’t want to travel fifty weeks a year, so I moved into a position as practice manager and dental technician at a local general practice.  During this time, I found my love of educating others on the importance of a good dental program in general practices.  I realized while in a practice, I could help 4-8 patients a day but by educating others, I could help thousands of pets get better dental care. After seven and half years, our children were out of the nest and I decided to turn my passion for education into my fulltime gig.   

 

Dr. H’s belief in everyone that worked with him.  He challenged and encouraged all of us to continue to grow in our chosen areas. After obtaining my LATG and RVT, I was asked to join a group of like-minded dental technicians to form the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians.  Was it easy, no, but the rewards of having a VTS(Dentistry) has opened so many doors for the advancement of my career.  I would not be a business owner, researcher, educator, speaker, Veterinary Technician Specialist without Dr. H’s belief in me and his allowing me to develop my career.   

 

The moral to this story is to never let a bad situation define who you are, it is simply the opinion of another person who may have issues we don’t understand.  It’s ok to feel bad about something not working out the way you planned but don’t let that rule your life.  Stand up, know who you are, believe in yourself and what you can do, and move forward!  No matter how much something scares you, don’t say no to an opportunity, you never know where it can lead!!

 

This book is a wonderful reference for career opportunities within the veterinary technology field. 

“Career Choices for Veterinary Technicians: Opportunities for Animal Lovers” by Rebecca Rose, CVT and Dr. Carin Smith.  It is available from AAHA. 

 

 

 

Career/Education Advancement

Blog Author: Ken Yagi, MS, RVT, VTS (ECC, SAIM)

NAVTA Member at Large

 

“So what do you plan on doing with your Masters?” This was a very common question asked as I was obtaining my MS in Veterinary Sciences through the University of Missouri. And the truth was, I struggled to answer that question because there really isn’t a clearly established career path a MS in Veterinary Science takes Veterinary Technicians. 

 

I knew that I wanted to show the world that veterinary technicians are capable of higher education and that there is a need for ways in which veterinary technicians were able to pursue a veterinary graduate degree, and I also wanted a path towards furthering my growth in addition to my VTS certifications. 

 

There is much to be learned, should you choose to do so

In fact, veterinary technicians of today enjoy numerous educational pathways, certifications, and certificate programs within an arm’s length or reach to pursue specific focuses in their practice. MS in Veterinary Science by the University of MissouriBachelor’s of Science in Veterinary Nursing at Purdue UniversityCertified Veterinary Pain Practitioner by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain ManagementCertified Veterinary Practice Manager by the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, and not to forget the 16 Veterinary Technician Specialist(VTS) certifications with each of their academies recognized by NAVTA, are rigorous formal education or certification processes one may pursue. In addition, there are many certificate programs such as Fear Free certificationfocused on removing patient fear and the RECOVER CPR certificationthat is considered the standard for veterinary CPR by ACVECC and VECCS. Each of these paths come with a cost. It takes the typical tuitions or fees, not to mention the time, energy, and dedication to earn the designations. 

 

So why do it?

Things that have costs are often evaluated from a “return on investment” perspective; what do you get out of it? Obtaining VTS or other certifications indicate expertise in the specialty area leading to higher level positions in practice and many career opportunities such as publishing, public speaking, contribution in collaborative initiatives, and consulting, just to name a few. Who was NOT jealous seeing a photo Mary Berg, VTS (Dentistry) working on a tiger or hearing about complex dietary formulations from Kara Burns, VTS (Nutrition)? Well… ok, maybe not the latter (I’m kidding! Or am I?), but they are both examples of VTS-level expertise being frequently called upon. 

 

Employers of well-run practices look up various certifications as a trait of individuals that have the drive to achieve more and see it as a favorable point on resumes, in addition to your credentialed veterinary technician status. From the opposite perspective, you would only want to join teams that value your effort.

 

The biggest return is YOU

From my point of view, pursuing certifications and degrees has returns that cannot be quantified. The late nights hitting the books and scientific articles on a disease process, having discussions with the vet about your findings to formulate treatment plans on the next shift, and witnessing the effect of your nursing care – which reiterated that the patients are depending on you.  

 

Putting yourself out there to ask for input on case reports, ask for recommendations, and talking to existing VTS’s realizing how little you actually knew compared to how much you thought you knew – which motivated you even more. 

 

Feeling like you’ll never be able to study enough to pass the exam, fretting over how to explain failing even before taking the exam, walking out of the exam room feeling devastated – which solidified your determination to keep learning. 

 

Being challenged to identify problems within the veterinary field to research the current status and evaluate the viability of a solution that you create as a part of the master’s thesis – which expanded your field of view to turn these problems into opportunities.

 

Ultimately, it is not the degree or certification that really matters, but the journey in which you take to get there which challenges, changes, and shapes you into the veterinary professional and person you are. You will meet many colleagues and gain friends out of the amazing people out there looking to better themselves for the same motivations as you. Our great profession will continue to grow and reach new heights through all of us, and I am proud to walk alongside you on the life-long journey. 

 

So… where are you headed off to next?

 

 

The Road Less Traveled – Lab Animal

Blog Author:  Beth Skiles, RVT, RLATG

NAVTA Membership Committee Co-Chair

 

I know this may sound cliché but I knew from a very early age I wanted to work with animals. As soon as I was old enough to volunteer, I started volunteering at the local zoo every summer.  When I turned 18 I was hired by the zoo and worked there during summers and breaks from college.  Once I got my degree in Animal Science the zoo hired me full time year round.  I stayed there full time for 3 years before getting married and moving to Texas.  While in Texas I was very fortunate to get hired on by another zoo where I also worked for 3 years before moving once again.

 

The city we moved to did not have a zoo, so I started working at a local humane society.  The work here was very different and mentally challenging compared to the zoos I had previously worked with.  After working there for a few years, there was an opening at a local veterinary clinic.  This was a general practice clinic. 

 

Once I started working at the vet clinic within a week I knew I wanted to go back to school to become a Veterinary Technician.  The problem was there were no programs close to where I lived and I really wanted to attend Purdue University.  It just so happens that Purdue University was just starting their Veterinary Technology Distance Learning Program.  I enrolled in this program and 5 years later I was one of the first two graduates of the

Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal