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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. 




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. 



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, 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



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 program.


I stayed at that clinic for 11 years.  In 2010 I went through a divorce and moved back to Indiana to be closer to my family.  I found a job at a Specialty/Emergency Clinic.  I learned so much here.  The hours were long and grueling at times but I loved every minute of it.


From the Specialty /Emergency Clinic I moved to working with lab animals in research where I have been for the past 5 years.  Again working with lab animals is not like everything I had ever done before.  I enjoy my job very much and feel like I am an advocate/voice for the animals.


My career has taken me in many directions but has always been working with animals.  The diversity of the animals I have worked with is amazing.  My career path is probably one less traveled than most people but I would not have changed anything.  I feel blessed to have always had a job that I love; and look forward to coming to work each day.



Career Advancement 

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

NAVTA President Elect


Several years back, I was sitting out at a restaurant with a crew of former co-workers. One of the younger ones turned to me and said something like “I want to be like you.”  She didn’t mean it in the “you’re my hero, you’re perfect” way but was talking about the fact that I had a job I loved and was no longer working back-breaking 12-hour (or 16 hours) shifts in ECC. 


My response to her was that I had put in the time and hard work to get to this point. She was at that phase then and I encouraged her to keep doing it and she would, one day, have the seemingly luxurious lifestyle I now had. 


I have repeated that over and over again through the years and I strongly believe that hard work pays off. Today, I am closing in on 20 years in the vet tech field (just a few more months), teach in a Veterinary Technology program (so I get summers off), and get to spend several weeks in the summer traveling to underserved Native American communities to provide free veterinary care while teaching students anesthesia and other skills. I also spend a few hours, here and there, working at a local emergency hospital and speaking around the country. 


Everything I do today has come from the hard work I put in over the years to advance myself – working 15-hour overnights Friday-Sunday so I could focus on school during the week, pursuing my VTS, being active in my state organization and NAVTA, and seeking out opportunities for growth and change when I felt it was the right time. 


I’m not going to go into a rant about millennials being lazy, they aren’t. What I will say is, over the years, I have seen many people in our field (of every generation) look at others that seem to “have it all” and assume those folks have those things because somebody else gave it to them. Nope, those folks who you see speaking at every conference, seem to have edited every book for Vet Techs, or even those who are moving their way up the management chain in your practice, have all taken control of their future and worked for where they are today. 


It isn’t about being lucky or nice. It is about taking a risk, accepting that challenge, making connections, and working to become the Veterinary Technician you want to be. There is so much variety for us but it isn’t lying around waiting. Go get it!




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

NAVTA President


“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but their ability to empower others.” John Maxwell

What is leadership? Owning a hospital? Being a supervisor? Being the president of a National Association? Not necessarily! Leadership is not a title. To me, John Hume sums up leadership – “I never thought in terms of being a leader, I thought very simply in terms of helping people.” 


Society is portrayed as ruthless and competitive. Only the strong come out on top, at the expense of the weak. I see leadership as helping one another to become their greatest self. Helping each other is not a sign of weakness, but rather, strength. Every one of us has had some sort of help along the way – a teacher, a parent, a coach, a friend, maybe even a random stranger. This guidance was empowering. Think of someone who helped you at some point along your journey. This act of helping molded you into a stronger, more confident being. 


Now consider paying it back. Many individuals have helped me in my journey. As we say the numbers are TNTC. I am trying to give back and empower others to be their best self. Won’t you join me? A simple act may make all the difference in someone’s life.



What is Leadership?

Blog Author: Jade Velasquez, LVT

NAVTA PR Committee Chair


When we ask ourselves “What is leadership?” or “What makes a leader?”, there can be a variety of answers. Many of these answers are based on the leaders we have known in our past. The people who took the time to guide, ask questions, provide answers and impart knowledge on us. These are the people whose leadership has transformed us into the people we are today. Then there are the leaders who claimed their role by seniority, fear and bad behavior. Those are the leaders that we have decided we don’t want to become. Each of these leaders are crucial to our growth. Some of us have known one, without the other and that can skew our perception.


A good leader may not have a title. They may be a coworker who offers praise, teaches skills or is a shoulder to lean on when times get tough. These people are inherently meant to challenge us to be better by showing us the strength we possess. These leaders show you your potential and help you build on it.   Leadership means not only guiding but having the courage to have uncomfortable discussions. Maybe this person points out that your attitude has been negative and asks what is going on. Maybe they explain by cutting corners, you are taking the easy way out and selling yourself short. 


A bad leader rules with an iron fist. Things are to be done because they are the boss and there will be consequences and repercussions for not listening to them. Maybe they point out your flaws and tell you that to survive this field you must be tough. They may micromanage and remind you of the “right way” to be good at what you do. Shame you for mistakes you’ve made all in the hopes of reminding you of your place. These “leaders” chip away at self esteem and people follow them for fear of shame. 


Think of the leaders you have known and ask yourself who do you want to be? Who don’t you want to be? Do you want to teach, encourage and help grow others or do you want to prove your place in the clinic? Leaders are not any different, then you or I. They are people who saw an opportunity to make something better or create change. Leaders are people who just started doing. Started teaching. Started guiding. We all have the opportunity to lead every day.  And if we don’t lead, we can choose which leader we will follow. Ultimately, we have the choice. Never forget that. 





Blog Author: Ryan Frazier, LVT 

NAVTA PR Committee Member and District 11 Representative 


“True leaders always practice the three R’s: Respect for self, Respect for others, Responsibility for their actions” – Anonymous 


The above quote are three main traits that I feel all good leaders have in common. To be an effective leader one must have respect for yourself and be able to stand up for what you believe in. You cannot stand up for something and get people to follow if you do not believe in that issue yourself. 

If you do not have respect for others, it is hard to treat these people fairly. Every person you lead from doctors to kennel attendant should be treated with respect. I strongly believe that if you want your staff to do something you better be willing to do it yourself. 


Taking ownership or responsibility for your actions speaks volumes to people watching. Every decision you make is not going to be the right one. It is at the times when you make an unpopular or maybe even the wrong decision that shows your true leadership potential. 


Back in 2007 I moved from day practice to emergency medicine, and shortly after I was thrown into a leadership role. While working in a Lead Technician position I basically put my head down, trained new staff and kept things flowing. It wasn’t until I moved across the country almost 4 years ago that I realized there is so much more to being a leader. 


I was faced with working with a larger staff and had the challenge of working with people that had high emotions, my biggest fear. Looking back, I probably already worked with these people and did not realize it.  I am fairly direct and confront an issue head on, which I do not believe is necessarily a bad thing, but that does not work with all people, especially the emotional ones. One person sticks out in my mind, when we would deal with an issue she would leave crying and I would leave frustrated. I remember the day we were finally able to deal with an issue and we both left satisfied with the outcome.


This is when I learned that there is so much more to being a leader. I learned that one size does not fit all when working with a group of people. You need to find out what works with each person to help the company and the individual achieve their goals.  





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

NAVTA President Elect


This past November, I had the pleasure of performing a marriage ceremony. Not just any marriage ceremony. It was my little sister getting married and she married a beautiful (inside and out), intelligent, talented woman. As I began to prepare my remarks for the ceremony, I realized just how different my sister is today from just a few years ago. Once she came out and began to talk a bit more about her feelings growing up, of being different and not feeling like she quite fit in at times, I began to realize that the angry and negative emotions that I had assumed were a result of losing our dad to cancer had really started much earlier. She began to talk about how she felt growing up, feeling she was somehow different. Lots of things began to make sense to me that I had missed when we were kids because, well, I was a kid. 


My sister was diagnosed with cancer herself in the summer of 2016. I feared the worst, not just physically but mentally for her. I am a firm believer that your mindset can impact your health and I was worried this could be a barrier to her fighting her illness. But enough with the sad stuff because here is where it gets amazing. Within a couple of months of her diagnosis, my sister met someone online…and they clicked. Twin flames, soulmates, whatever you want to call it, they are it. This amazing woman decided to stick around rather than run when she was told that this person she just met was battling cancer and treatment was really just getting underway. She slept in her hospital room while my sister underwent a stem cell transplant, moved in to my mom’s house with my sister to help care for her after the transplant and, finally, in November of last year, this beautiful, intelligent, talented woman stood before me holding hands with my equally beautiful, intelligent, talented sister and I was marrying them!  


This might not seem entirely like a post to celebrate Pride Month yet but here is the simple truth that I feel underlies the essence of Pride celebrations – love is amazing, you never know where you will find it or what it will look like, and all love is “different”.  The important pieces are that the two people “click”, they are there for each other, and they help each other’s mindset stay in a good place, or at least help get them back to a good place when things go awry. Who we find this with should be irrelevant to anyone else. We should celebrate anyone who has found this combination because so many don’t. I am so honored to have been able to officiate at a union of two women who have found these important pieces in each other and I am grateful for the impact it has had on my only sibling. She is happier than I have ever seen her...and she’s been in remission for several months now!




Blog Author: Jade Velasquez, LVT

NAVTA PR Committee Chair


There are some events in life I have been 100% proud of. These events have been turning points for me and have shaped me into the person I am today. I was proud when I passed my VTNE after hours upon hours of studying and stress. But the day my son was born, I remember feeling the intense pride that I had in created someone so beautiful. I truly believed that this person I created could change the world. 

As my son grew and developed his own thoughts and ideas, I decided to take him to his first Pride Fest. I wanted him to see that loves comes in all form and that if people carry love in their heart they can achieve anything.  My son was a bit shy and we lived in a small town. Pride Fest would expose him to a whole different culture than the one that existed within the confines of our quiet, small town. I took the day off work and with him in tow, made the ferry ride across the water to Seattle. When he got there his eyes lit up. 

There we people everywhere. There was music, laughter and his first real parade. He watched in awe as people threw goodies from decorated floats and danced in the streets. He had gained quite a following and several of the people in the crowd would run and gather gifts from the floats and bring them to him. He laughed and took joy in the celebration while I watched and beamed with pride. This human I had created didn’t care who loved who or understand the stigma that had been associated with this for the past generations.

He was just surrounded by love. That was all that mattered. As we left, there were drag queens passing around feather boas. Who doesn’t want a rainbow feather boa?! Needless to say, I bought one while I saw my son staring at the dramatic drag makeup in awe. This drag queen caught his gaze and kneeled in 10-inch platforms to look my son in the face. She looked him in the eye and asked him if he wanted a boa. Aidan smiled and said “Yes, please.” Seeing the smile on both of their faces, and maybe a tear as the drag queen gently draped the boa over my son’s neck, was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever experienced. 

Love is universal. As people we have a choice to embrace beautiful moments such as these and be proud. Love is beautiful and isn’t restricted by class, background or sexual orientation. To feel love in your heart is one of the best gifts in the world. To share that love with others is even greater. Be proud. Be brave. Never stop believing in the power that love holds. With love we can change the world. 



Blog Author: Ellen I. Lowery, DVM, PhD, MBA

NAVTA Guest Writer


June is Pride Month….what does that mean?  To the LGBTQ+ and allied community it is a proclamation and celebration of love, diversity, acceptance and unashamed self-pride.  Those of you that know me know that I like to think about the meaning and application of words, and true to character as I was thinking about this blog, I looked up the dictionary definition of pride.  My favorite is ‘a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character; self-respect; self-esteem’.   A ‘dignified sense’, what an empowering phrase!  I also like that the words ‘unashamed self-pride’ are associated with Pride Month.  As a woman, and a lesbian, shame has been too long a definer of personal value.  

I am blessed to be with the love of my life.  As with any couple it is natural for me to hold her hand when we’re out and about, to smile and laugh with her, to reach up and touch her face, to love the feel of her arms around me and to be happy, open and unashamed of our love.  I’m perplexed that the same person that would smile at a heterosexual couple walking through the park holding hands would scowl at a homosexual couple sharing that same expression of love. Just because it’s different from that individual’s orientation, identity or belief doesn’t make it wrong.  The beauty and power of embracing diversity is inviting others to the table for who they are, not for who you think they should be. 

So yes, Pride Month is a celebration of love, diversity, acceptance and unashamed self-pride. It’s also belonging, camaraderie, laughter, friendship, inclusion, authenticity and joy.  Love is love, and that is worthy of unashamed celebration. 



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

NAVTA President


June is Pride Month and I am honored to kick off NAVTA’s blogs for Pride Month. What does Pride month celebrate? Well at the core, it celebrates love, inclusion, and diversity. Why is it so hard for people to want to celebrate love? Why is it so easy for people to hate what is different? I have seen the hateful looks and have heard the vitriol. But I have also seen the acceptance; I have witnessed the support, kindness, and love – and that is what I always choose to focus on. There will always be individuals who dissent, disapprove, belittle. However, the majority of human beings just want their fellow human beings to be happy on this wild ride through life. As long as you are happy – does it matter with whom you fall in love? It really shouldn’t.

I found the absolute love of my life, my soulmate. I am truly lucky! Many of you know her and see our pictures and posts. We do not hide our love because of our gender – we share it for the world to see, because what is seen is Love. Do not hide. “Be soulful. Be Kind. Be in Love. Be Foolishly in Love, for Love is All There Is”. ~Rumi

LGBTQIA pride focuses on the positive position against discrimination and violence toward LGBTQIA people. Pride month promotes self-affirmation, dignity, and equality. Pride month helps to build community and celebrate love. To be able to promote dignity and celebrate love is powerful. 

In the words of St. Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” Let’s come together this June in support of love. Each of us can create a ripple, which together can change the world – and that is powerful!

In a world where you can be anything, be kind. #LoveIsLove.


Be Kind - Always 

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

NAVTA President


My first career was as an emergency psychologist. People in need. People often in dire need. Fellow humans that were fighting a battle, which their closest friends and family oftentimes knew nothing about. Suffering in silence because they did not want to be stigmatized, they did not want to be categorized. They simply wanted help. They wanted and deserved treatment for a disease condition in the brain. 

Society has a long history of belittling and disparaging disease conditions of the brain. Why? As medical professionals, if a cat came in with lower urinary tract disease, the healthcare team would follow a treatment regimen to alleviate that cat’s symptoms and treat the overall condition. (Good time to remind you that nutrition can help here!) JIf a dog presented with a noise phobia, we would not tell the owner it was ‘just in the dog’s head, not a big deal’. We would work as a team to alleviate the dog’s fear in times of loud noises. Yet, humans tell fellow humans to ‘suck it up’; ‘everyone gets down sometimes, snap out of it’; ‘stop acting crazy’. Words are powerful. Words hurt.

In our own profession, depression and suicide is occurring at alarming rates. In the US, 20-25% of adults experience mental illness.1  In veterinary medicine, 20% of the adult canine population suffers from osteoarthritis (OA). 2  As canine patients enter the hospital, we observe their gait and ask questions of the owner regarding OA. If a colleague is down and moving a little slower, we often become agitated (“what is their problem?”) and may even complain to co-workers. What if we took a step back and remembered the words of Plato – Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind – Always.

Together we can bring awareness to mental health. Let’s celebrate Mental Health Awareness month! Help me to Break the Stigma. #BreakTheStigma. We help medical conditions in our veterinary patients every day. Mental illness is just that - an illness. We must continue to look at all living beings as a whole – and we cannot achieve true health without mental health. Take the time to be kind – it can make all the difference in someone’s life.

1. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed 5/27/18.

2. Burns KM.  Managing Osteoarthritis in Pets. The NAVTA Journal. Convention Issue, 2011. Pp. 16-22.


Anxiety and Mental Health

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

NAVTA President Elect


A couple of summers ago, I was sitting at the gate waiting for my flight to board. I spend several weeks each summer working with a non-profit who coordinates field clinics in underserved communities that not only bring much needed veterinary care to these areas, but also allow vet and vet tech students to learn and practice their craft. These are my favorite weeks of the year and, on more than one occasion, a trip has brought me back from an unhappy path. Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to this trip.

But that summer day however, I suddenly began to feel nauseous, nervous and sweaty…. OMG I was heading towards an anxiety attack!  I had never really had a problem with anxiety in my life so this reality hit me quickly and unexpectedly. Over the next several months, things slowly became more concerning. I mostly had issues around flying (which I normally love) but some were not.  

I realized I “had anxiety” now, and finally, I admitted it to myself and set up an appointment with a therapist. Since then, I’ve learned that stress and anxiety are not the same, what was really causing my anxiety (good news, it has nothing to do with flying), tools for managing anxiety when it arises, and that I have an amazing support network of friends and family to help me cope.  What I also learned was empathy for others who suffer from mental illness. Prior to this experience, I was overall an empathetic person but I definitely had some misconceptions about mental illness and anxiety disorders. 

While I still do feel that we all have to try to not let mental illness take over our lives, I also realize that if we don’t have the appropriate tools we aren’t able to make those choices and, sometimes, even the tools may fail us. My message to you is this: If you suffer from some form of mental illness please seek help, so you can start to gather the tools and support system you need. If you don’t suffer from mental illness, be empathetic to those that do. That person who seems to be making a big deal out of something insignificant or who has missed several appointments/deadlines/shifts/classes may not have the tools they need to make the turn towards a healthy mental state. Maybe you can be their first tool. 


Wellness Hacks

Blog Author: Beckie Mossor, RVT

NAVTA Secretary and SCNAVTA Committee Chair


I have to say…I LOVE living in the day and age of technology. I live by my apps. I am lost without my phone and cell service. No literally lost, I use Waze to go everywhere! Technology is a great way to boost wellness in several different areas!

POPSUGAR Fitness just published a list of the best daily self-care apps ( and these are right on point for someone looking to increase their self-care and wellness game. And since most of us have a smart phone, accessibility is no problem!

Some apps that I recommend that made this list include 

Aura: Mindfulness and Meditation. This app stands out for specific stress and anxiety related meditations, mood tracking features, reminders and the best feature, sessions are from 3-10 minutes! Everyone has time foe that!

Headspace. This is another popular meditation app. There is a great free version and a more expansive paid library.

Yoga Wake Up. This app provides a short yoga or meditation to be done in bed, first thing in the morning. I really find when I set my intention for the day, I do have more awareness and inner focus. This app is awesome!

Others that didn’t make the list, but I highly recommend checking out include:

Talkspace. An online counseling app that provides access to thousands of counselors online. You can find the perfect therapist for you. This is an affordable option for many of us who need some guidance working through life from time to time, or on a regular basis. There are options from video chat to daily texting, this resource meets the time, financial, and privacy needs that keep many from pursuing professional help. 

MyFitnessPal by Under Armour. This is a great fitness app that will synch with most fitness tracking devices and has a great free or Pro paid version. Nutrition is the foundation of feeling good and with the social networking feature you can find friends and help encourage each other!


As for other creative ways to help take a load off of your mind, consider online grocery shopping. Reduce the likelihood you will spend more money and impulse buy when you use your app to buy only what is on your list. Items are ready to go, and you don’t even set foot in the store. More stores are offering this service and it is well worth checking out! 

Use your calendar to it’s full extent for reminders, merging family plans, and even setting up tasks!

Remember to unplug. There are a few different tools on your phone or installs to block texting and driving, set quiet times that will block unnecessary alerts, and even this rarely used feature called “off”. The phone can be your friend or foe when it comes to wellness. Remember to take time off from the screen and enjoy life and those around you as well!




Blog Author: Jade Velasquez, LVT

NAVTA PR Committee Chair


I’ve been a caregiver in this field for 16 years. In this time, I have poured endless amounts empathy and care into my patients and clients. I’ve watched people leave the field due to tapping out their emotional, mental and physical reserves. It’s become a personal mission to speak to colleagues about selfcare, work/life balance and setting boundaries. All in hopes of keeping caregivers in the field who put their profession first and put themselves on the back burner. 

I also suffer from depression and anxiety.  I take medications daily to allow myself to be the best me I can be for my profession, my family, my friends and myself. One of my biggest flaws is pushing myself to extremes. I work hard. When not at work, I am looking at ways to promote and build on this profession. Sometimes, I forget to practice what I preach. That can lead to days or weeks that I forget to take my medication. This, is a recipe for disaster. 

Most recently, I kept putting off scheduling a doctor’s appointment to refill my meds for anxiety. In my mind, I kept thinking I would get around to it. I didn’t. Then I thought that maybe I didn’t need them. I’ve got this all under control. Life happened, and it sent me into a spiral of nervousness, anxiety and stress. Driving into work one day, I realized my heart was beating out of my chest. My thoughts were scattered and frantic. I couldn’t focus on the drive; my mind was running a million miles a minute. 

I realized I had lost control. I had focused on taking care of everyone else and put myself last. Now it was time to ask for help. Many of us in this field suffer from some sort of mental illness. It’s surrounded in stigma and secrecy. Please know, that you are not alone. It is okay put yourself first and ask for help when you need it. Mental illness does not make you a failure. Your mental health should always come first. Find a support network and know what to watch for in yourself. You cannot help others, if you are not at your best. Keep up the good fight. 


Not All Super Heroes Have Capes!!

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

NAVTA Immediate Past President

I don’t know about you, but I am super pumped that the new Avengers movie:  Avengers: Infinity Waris coming to a theater near you.  Many of us love to watch these Superheroes save the day on the big screen but we don’t need to be a “super hero” to help others. One in five people suffer from mental health issues.  This statistic is staggering!  Within each of us lies the ability to help others, just like we help our patients every day.  Do you know that each of you have the ability to change the life of someone who may be in need? Here are seven things you can do to become a superhero to another individual.


1.    Calmness – be the steadfast person that offers comfort to a colleague that may be suffering or in need of help.  Ask an opened ended question, such as “I’ve noticed that you not yourself lately, how can I help”?  Let them know you are there to listen if they need to talk and then do that -listen to them. Reflective listening isn’t easy for everyone, myself included, but it’s important to listen and be supportive to our colleagues and friend. Don’t react but remain calm and supportive.


2.    Honesty – being honest with colleagues may not always make you the most popular person but it can show that you can be trusted.  


3.    Non-judgmental – unfortunately it is human nature to judge people.  However, it is not ok to openly display your judgement of individuals.  Instead, offer support that can create a safe place for that individual.


4.    Empathy- veterinary professionals have immense empathy for their patients but not always for their own species.  Empathy for colleagues and clients shows that you really care about them as a human being.


5.    Resourcefulness – be the person that encourages others to get the help they need and help them find those resources.   A person who is suffering may feel that no one cares and there is no help.  Show them that this is not true.


6.    Reassuring – Let them know that you will be there for them to help them along the way and things will be ok in time.


7.    Encouraging – encourage your friend or colleague to get the help they need to feel better. Let them know they are not alone and people want to help them feel better.  


Be the superhero in someone’s life by being there for them as they struggle through a difficult time. You probably won’t get a cape and it’s not always easy but the rewards are priceless.



Live Like a Duck #StressAwareness

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

NAVTA President


Not all of us are wired like ducks. Imagine living the duck mentality – let it roll off of your back. Just think how much less stressful life would be?! 

Stress is an everyday occurrence in many of us. Internal or external forces affect us either emotionally, physically, or both. How we respond affects us individually. Because we experience so much stress in our daily lives, we usually associate stress with negatives. However, from a biological point of view, stress can be a neutral, negative, or positive experience.

Stress is related to both external and internal influences. External factors consist of the physical environment, including your job, relationships, your home, and all the situations, challenges, difficulties, and daily expectations with which you are confronted. In veterinary medicine, this is accentuated with all the medical factors that we face daily – ill pets, scared pet parents, and euthanasia. Internal factors regulate your body's ability to deal with the aforementioned external factors. Internal factors which influence your body and mind’s ability to handle stress include your nutritional status (yes, there it is again! J), fitness levels, emotional well-being, the amount of sleep you get, and in a nutshell – your overall health.

While we are compassionate, caretaking individuals – we seldom care for ourselves. Let’s change that – so we can continue to help our veterinary patients. Start today! Walk your dog, play with your cat, just pet either one or ride a horse, interact with your birds, just watch a guinea pig – all will help reduce stress. Here’s a novel thought – take time for yourself! What????? We couldn’t possibly do that! Yes, we can – do something that you enjoy doing! Be a duck!

Follow the advice of our dogs – “If you cannot eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away”. 



Change Your Outlook on Stress

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

NAVTA President Elect


I’ve been a curling fan for a long time. Unlike many who suddenly discovered the sport during this year’s Olympics, I have attended the World Championship and a previous Olympics. I love it! 

So, how does this confession fit with a stress awareness blog?  Well, one name John Shuster. I’ll save you the Google search and tell you he is an American curler who I have watched with disdain for many years. He always seemed mad or frustrated with his team which is out of character for most curling skips (like the captain). However, this year I noticed he seemed totally fine, even supportive when a teammate missed a shot. He even smiled several times during his matches! What was going on? 

After his team won the gold medal, he said in an interview that he woke up the morning of an important match at the Olympics and felt he had “a choice to rewrite my story.”  His choice was to “go out and enjoy it”. This man, known for letting frustration take over during important matches made a conscious decision to change. The stress wasn’t any less. In fact, the stress was likely more, as his team had never been to the gold medal round, but he chose to handle that stress differently. He embraced the good things. His stress was there because he was competing for a gold medal at the Olympics! That change of attitude helped win the USA their first curling gold medal. 

Now, a lot of our stress does not have such an obviously positive “silver lining” but, we do get to do some pretty uplifting, exciting, and amazing things in the veterinary field that also happen to come with a lot of stress. It isn’t always easy, but I encourage you to change your outlook on stress.  Look for the positives to help you through the stress.  

I’ll leave you with my current stress.  The Vet Tech program I teach in is closing at the end of the semester. I have spent most of every day for the last week trying to ensure my students have a path to finish their degrees. However, this highly stressful situation has been tempered by the messages and support from my students. I have realized that the students are super appreciative of what the faculty has done for them, I have had an impact on many lives and futures, and theses students will be ok, regardless of the outcome, because other faculty and I have taught them important life skills beyond the essential skills the CVTEA requires. I can’t say I am enjoying this situation, but I can say that I am making a choice to write my own story. Don’t let stress be the author. Make a choice to write your own story!



Blog Author: Aimee Potter, CVT

NAVTA PR Committee Member


STRESS!!! - Did I get your attention?

Even the word gets some of us tense. How often do you feel stressed?

What stresses you out? Your job? Your home/family? Your Friends?


Sometimes just identifying your stressors helps you feel less stressed. Some people think that stress is a good thing. Personally, I’m not so sure. Stress will sometimes keep you on your toes, but it may also keep you up at night too. 


We all have to learn to deal with stress in our lives. How? I truly believe that once you can identify those things that cause too much stress in your life, then you can start to find out how to cope or de-stress.


For me, I’m a planner. I like to look ahead, find out what the next day holds in store for me, that way if there is something on my schedule that may be stressful, I can think about how to deal with it, and come up with a plan to deal with that stress. I like to think that if I know what's coming, I’ll be less stressed about it. It usually works.


What do I do to de-stress? I like to listen to my favorite music, lose myself in a great book, hike, and talk with friends.


Let’s face it, we all have to deal with stress in our lives. Find out what your stressors are and look them straight in the face and say: “I will not let you get me down!” 


Fight it off and then go and de-stress the best way you know how. I promise, you will make it through all of life’s challenges! 


Stress? What Stress? 

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

NAVTA Immediate Past President


Stress is part of our everyday existence.  It is normal and helps us develop as homo sapiens, however, there are times in our lives that our stress levels increase and tip the scales from healthy to unhealthy. See what I did there?  Tip the scales!  Many people react to high levels of stress by overeating and/or eating things that aren’t as healthy.  Stressed is Desserts spelled backward, right? My personal vice is salty chips!  


In January, I attended the AVMA’s Veterinary Leadership Conference and a lecture was given Ryan Smith and Dr. Jen Quammen from High Performance Living entitled “Handling Stress and Becoming Anti-fragile:  Being More Than Resilient”.  I thought this was an interesting topic and hoped I could learn to be more Anti-fragileso I attend the session.  Dr. Quammen and Ryan Smith are excellent presenters and if you get the chance attend their sessions do so!  During this presentation they discussed ways to increase our stress level to become less fragile by resetting our stress levels.  Facing adversity, and then returning to a point that is better than where you started.  For example, we all love a hot shower after a day at the clinic, right?  We can wash away not only the grunge of the day, but metaphorically wash away the stressful things that happened that day.  BUT – have you considered that by taking a cold shower (at least 30 seconds under a cold stream) can benefit your overall health? Not only will your skin and hair thank you, but it can improve your immune function, increase metabolism while increasing the amount of stress you can tolerate.  I tried this technique and I strongly recommend starting slowly and work up to 30 seconds!!


You face challenges every day, so why not use those challenges to learn from them, overcome them and grow from the experience.  

Two take things I learned from the Anti-fragility session:

1.    Understand that stress isn’t always a negative thing; as with many things, the dose makes the poison.

2.    Develop a healthy relationship with stress, and challenge may improve your overall quality of life.


Embrace your stress, learn from it and grow from it!  



My Favorite Month! #NationalNutritionMonth

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

NAVTA President


Yay – it is finally here – Nutrition Month! It should be of no surprise that this is one of my favorite focused monthly themes of the year.  And truly, what is more important than proper nutrition?  Shouldn’t every month be nutrition month?


Proper nutritional management is one of the most important factors in the health and disease management of pets. Nutrition is the cornerstone of health and wellness. Veterinary teams have observed that as pet owners become increasingly aware of the importance of nutrition in their own health, they will expect a higher standard of nutritional care for their pets.  The veterinary healthcare team should be the preferred, expert source of the best nutritional information for pets.  We see owners having visited the internet, then coming into the hospital armed with questions. I hear you that this is frustrating. But if we are the preferred, expert source of information – let us turn this thought process around. Let’s applaud them for caring so much about their pet that they do research and build on that to educate with proper resources and information. If we remain frustrated, it is the pet that suffers. Go back to your ‘why’. Why did you get into veterinary medicine? To help pets???


The human – animal bond adds quality to our lives and improves our longevity.  Studies show physical, emotional, and psychological benefits in humans that interact with pets.  Our pet family members deserve high quality care that will ensure the length and quality of their lives.  Out of the three components that affect the life of an animal – genetics, environment, and nutrition – nutrition is the one factor that the veterinary profession, specifically veterinary technicians, can impact. Proper dietary management is one of the most important factors in maximizing health, performance, and longevity and managing numerous diseases.


Veterinary healthcare teams that understand and embrace nutrition and demonstrate in-clinic behaviors consistent with that conviction will benefit their patients, their clients, their practices, and the profession.



7 Nutrition Tips

Blog Author: Michelle Krasicki-Aune, CVT

NAVTA Treasurer 


It’s been a long day…your shift ran over, you wish you could have muzzled at least 2 clients (maybe one coworker), you’re not sure where that smell is coming from, or what it is, but you know it’s you, and now you just want to go home.  Then you see it, the neon lights sing the siren song and suddenly you swear your car is filled with the smell of french-fries. You hear the promise of cheesy goodness and supersized everything calling your name.  Fast-food signs are streaming at you like the stars on the star bridge of some futuristic spaceship in hyperdrive.  You feel your willpower dwindling and your stomach growling, before long you will give into avoid the unrelenting hanger that is mere moments away.  BUT WAIT!  Suddenly you remember that you packed a healthy and cost conscious alternative snack to fast food!  Waves of relief wash over you as the neon signs disappear in the rear-view mirror and you take your first bite of your…


As credentialed veterinary technicians we spend endless hours every day counseling owners, producers and breeders on the importance of proper nutrition, often forgetting that we are in fact victim to the problems we try and guard against.  Lack of time, planning, ease of resources, and finances often drive our food decisions, much like they do with our clients.  Just like for our clients, there are a few tips and tricks that can make meals more enjoyable again!


1.     PLANNING: Set a few minutes aside on your ‘day off’ before your week starts and plan at least 3 full days of meals.  That means 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners.  If you have enough time, even consider cooking them!  If you enjoy leftovers, plan to make the meals larger so you have these!  Pre-packing these in small, clearly labeled containers will help you be able to grab and go as you head out the door.

2.     EASY: Easy can be healthy.  Remember those lunchboxes your mom used to fill with a sandwich, piece of fruit, few slices of veggies and small sweet treat? She was onto something! Go retro and indulge in some childhood favorites.  Fruits and vegetables are always smart ideas for snacks - and since they are high in fiber, they are more filling then prepackaged snacks.

3.     SHOPPING: Don’t shop on an empty stomach or after a long shift.  Make a list (see #1) and stick to it.  Your wallet will thank you.  Healthier foods are always on the outskirts of the store and not the central isles- be strategic in your movement.  Buying in bulk will often save money and force you to meal prep.

4.     GOOGLE IT!  The internet has ENDLESS ideas for quick, cost efficient, and healthy meals.  There are even videos showing real time preparation of meals.  Use your internet surfing skills for the powers of good!

5.     VITAMIN: Talk to your MD and consider a multi-vitamin in your diet already.  You might be surprised what the proper balance and vitamins and minerals does for your energy.   

6.     WATER: Remember to consume about ½ your body weight (in pounds) in liquids per day.  Your body appreciates when these liquids are void of sugar, caffeine and other added and artificial products.

7.     TIME: Take time to eat.  Be mindful of every bite you take and how many times you chew.  Extending your entire meal time to 30 minutes can decrease over eating as your body needs few minutes to realize it is being fed.     


National Nutrition Month

Blog Author: Jade Velasquez, LVT

NAVTA PR Committee Chair


For years, I have been the technician who would prefer to work through lunch. There are times that I inhale a piece of pizza before heading into a lunch time emergency surgery. Even worse, I may go all day without even eating anything at all. I wondered why I was exhausted, couldn’t lose weight despite barely eating or why I just had zero energy at the end of the week.  Then I began working at a clinic that took regularly scheduled lunches. It was so foreign to me that I almost had no idea how to sit down and have a lunch without eating too quickly.


I had to retrain my brain to realize that what we put into our bodies determines the amount of energy we have to use throughout the day. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I eat healthy all the time. In fact, I don’t eat healthy most of the time. But I try to make deliberate choices to give my body sustainable energy. I make sure to bring food with me to work and make it something that can give me necessary nourishment. Some technicians, with way more motivation than me, do meal prep. Taking one day out of the week to prepare their meals. But if you are not able to do meal prep, try to make sure you have a variety of healthy options for lunch or snacks and make sure to take time through out the day to drink water.


There are days when the donuts brought in by clients are my breakfast. When my lunch is leftovers from yesterday’s dinner, and this is not necessarily always a bad thing, but I like to balance this out by bringing healthy snacks to work, especially for when the afternoon hits. If I am starting to feel grouchy around 3 pm, I eat some protein. I’ve noticed that my boyfriend really appreciates the days I eat an afternoon snack, because I don’t rip off his head the second I walk through the front door. Could I be drinking smoothies every morning, eating salad for lunch and vegetables for my dinner? Absolutely! But I’m not. Just try to be aware that the food we put in, gives us the energy to make it through this crazy, chaotic and wonderful profession. Allow yourself time to get the nourishment that you need. Take a lunch. Drink your water. Take care of yourself. 


Heart Health: Stress

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

NAVTA President


February is Heart Health Month and we have been focusing on heart health in our NAVTA blogs this month. Now I want to weigh in too! In addition to the physical health of the heart, we also need to focus on the emotional aspects of heart health. Many of you thought I was going to say we need to focus on the nutritional aspect of heart health! J While I believe nutrition is extremely important in maintaining a healthy heart, I also believe we need to focus on the emotional piece. We know that stress can lead to impairment in numerous systems in the body. Physiologically, mental stress can lead to constriction of arteries throughout the body. In individuals with heart disease, the result is reduced blood supply to the heart muscle and an occurrence known as mental stress–induced ischemia.1 This is yet another reminder for all of us to find ways to avoid and manage mental/emotional stress.


I hear you saying – “But we are lucky to get a lunch break, never mind a mental stress break!” We all relate to this, but is it healthy?  We give of ourselves, until there is nothing left to give. That is the nature of our profession – nurturing, compassionate, caring – always for our patients, our co-workers, our clients. But not ourselves. This stress literally can kill us! So why not take 5 minutes or even 2 minutes out of your day for YOU?


We know what is good for the mind is usually good for the heart. According to the American Heart Association, calming one’s mind (e.g., meditation) aids in reducing the risk of heart disease. You do not need to do this for an hour or even 30 minutes – if we begin to take two minutes out of our unbelievably busy day, we will start taking care of ourselves! There are many forms of meditation, but in our busy world we simply need to close our eyes and focus on our breathing. Two minutes keeping our mind focused on the present and away from stressful or distracting thoughts. You are calming your body through calming your mind.  Taking two minutes for yourself is not selfish – it is selfless. Taking time for you can improve heart health, put your mind more at ease, and allow us to care for that many more pets. Which is why we got into this profession in the first place!


Happy Heart Health Month!


1. Sullivan S, Hammadah M, Al Mheid I, et al. Sex Differences in Hemodynamic and Microvascular Mechanisms of Myocardial Ischemia Induced by Mental Stress. Journal of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 2018;38:473-480.



American Heart Month: Balance

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

NAVTA President Elect


A couple of weeks ago, I was in a dressing room trying on pants because I had forgotten to pack my pants for my trip (yes, you read that right) when my phone rang. I answered by mistake and hurriedly told my sister-on-law I’d call her back in five minutes. Well, five minutes later I found out her husband had a heart attack.


Forgotten pants somehow no longer seemed important. My sister-in-law is actually a RN in a cardiac catheter lab so we talked through what happened on a fairly technical level (in truth, a bit beyond my level) but I realized as we talked that this could be my husband…. or it could be me.


Let’s think about risk factors of heart disease: poor diet (I’m eating pizza as I type this), poor exercise habits (I took a dance class the other night and thought I might die), and stress (I’m a Vet Tech who teaches in a Vet Tech program and also has an administrative role. Oh, and I decided it would be fun to be President-Elect of NAVTA). I then began to realize that someone taught me a great lesson years ago – you have to balance the stress with the stress-free. 


Some call it work-life balance but I think that gives work a bad name. Some people are less stressed at work than in other areas of life and, if that is the case, maybe they do work a little more than others. I try to stay focused on what is causing stress.  When it has been work-related, I have either balanced those stresses with fun/engaging/stress-free activities or I have eliminated that stress from my life by finding a new job. When something in my personal life was stressful, I sometimes threw myself into work as a way to find fulfillment and balance.


After this wake-up call with my brother-in-law, I have realized this great lesson I learned years ago is applicable to many of the risk factor behaviors for heart disease. I can eat that pizza because I had a healthy piece of fish for lunch, just like I can handle a stressful situation with a student because I am going to go have dinner with a good friend afterwards. I’m still working on the exercise, but I’ll get there. I just have to focus on the balance.



Heart Disease Blog

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

NAVTA Immediate Past President


A healthy mouth = a healthy body!  I often joke that I can tie good oral health into any discussion, but with the link between heart health and dental disease, I am not reaching too far for a connection.  February is not only National Dental Awareness Month for our pets but also Heart Health Month for us humans.  I can’t think of two topics that go better together!! 


Now, I’m not saying that every patient with dental disease will have heart issues or vice versa, but they are at a greater risk for complications.   It is well documented that chronic inflammation and resulting infection from periodontal disease can have a profound affect on the heart health of BOTH humans and animals.  Every time the animal eats or chews on a toy, the bacteria that is lurking in the mouth can be introduced into the bloodstream and lead to concerns with internal organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver.


A common myth is that the bacteria is only released into the blood stream at the time of a dental cleaning, however that has been proven incorrect.  The fact is the bacteria is released continuously throughout eating and playing.  Gingival tissue is very vascular and the mouth is full of pathologic bacteria. If the gum layer is disrupted, even a little bit, bacteria will get into the bloodstream, which can go anywhere and trigger inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is one of the main things that causes damage to blood vessels, including those of the heart.


Oral disease in both humans and companion animals is very similar.  The key word is inflammation. Periodontal disease begins with an inflammatory response to the bacteria present in the oral cavity. Gingivitis, which causes red, painful, tender gums, and periodontitis, which leads to infected periodontal pockets. Chronic inflammation can lead to permanent damage. 


We regularly tell our clients to take care of their pet’s mouths but we need to remember why it is so important to take care of ourselves as well.  Brush and floss twice daily and see your dentist every 6 months!  Your heart is depending on you!


American Heart Month - Stay Alive!

Blog Author: Virginia Rud, CVT 

NAVTA Exhibition Representative 


According to the American Heart Association, fewer women survive their first heart attack than men. This isn’t because women’s heart attacks are worse or more damaging. It’s because women tend not to recognize the signs and therefore delay seeking medical treatment. Although the terms “heart attack” and “cardiac arrest” are frequently used interchangeably, it is important to understand the difference. A heart attack is the result of decreased blood flow to the heart muscle while cardiac arrest is the failure of the electrical impulse that causes the heart contraction. The key difference is that a heart attack can occur over a period of hours or even days. And this is, ultimately, the reason that more women die.


As women, we tend to have this ingrained sense that we are obligated to meet our responsibilities regardless of how we feel, and that often leads us to overlook the messages that our bodies are trying to send us. While the stereotypical symptoms of a heart attack usually involve someone clutching their chest and immediately collapsing, in truth, most heart attacks start long before that acute collapse phase. And unfortunately for women, many of the early symptoms are subtle and may mimic other conditions.


Here’s my story. I was preparing to travel to a very important event. I hadn't slept in over 36 hours because of nerves, excitement, poor time management…yada, yada, yada. And for roughly the previous 10 hours, I felt like I was having a bad case of indigestion and my upper back hurt.  So, I ate about half a bottle of antacids, took some ibuprofen, ignored it, figured it was just from the all the stress and it would go away.... 


It didn't. 


When I finally got to the airport and sat down to wait to board the plane, it occurred to me that, even with all the antacids and NSAIDS, the indigestion and back pain hadn’t subsided at all.  It finally clicked that my body had been trying to tell me that “something” wasn’t right. I went to the gate agent and started to explain that I wanted to reschedule my flight because I was having these weird pains and I pointed to my chest. Here's a tip for everyone: if you indicate "chest" and "pain" in a public place, be prepared for the response! Within moments, I was surrounded by airport police and paramedics and then I was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. And even at this point, heart attack was still the furthest thing from my mind. Yet within an hour of arriving at the ER, I experienced a full cardiac arrest. Full arrest…


The moral of the story is, thankfully, I finally listened to what my body was telling me, and in enough time to get help. Had I opted to ignore the pain and chosen instead to board that aircraft, well, you would’ve spent the past few minutes reading something else.


Heart attack signals for women can include tightness in the chest resembling indigestion, back and neck pain and nausea with or without the more traditional symptoms of chest pain or pain in the arm or jaw and shortness of breath. It is important to listen to your body and recognize when “something” isn’t right. We need to trust our intuition and act upon it. If we go to the ER and it turns out to be indigestion, so be it. But if it isn’t, then we get the opportunity to stay alive. 



February Blog

Blog Author: Julie Legred, CVT

NAVTA Executive Director



Is it a coincidence that Heart Health Month is February?  I mean February 14th is Valentine’s Day and known as the day of “hearts”.


When I was young, I truly thought that my heart was “heart” shaped, but we all know that isn’t true.  When we think of a heart, many times we think of love and compassion, but in reality, our heart is something that pumps blood throughout our body to keep us alive.


I want to grow and excel in my career as a veterinary technician/veterinary nurse and by doing all I can to continue learning and connecting/networking.  I believe this does my heart good, as it is something I enjoy and am very passionate about.  Doing “things” we like to do and working with people we like and enjoy takes some stress out of our daily lives, but it can also push us to do much more than we really should be doing, or puts an amount of pressure on ourselves that is more than we are capable of doing or is healthy for us to be doing.


I got up this morning at 2:30am to leave the house at 3:30am to catch a flight to Orlando for VMX.  As I drove to the airport, I was trying to think of something that I could write about relating to our “heart health” theme this month, but all I could come up with was writing about how we should take care of ourselves.  Same ol’ thing that you hear over and over again, but when I finally got on the plane and sat down to write this, my mind started to think and wonder a bit.


Why in the world did I get up at this awful hour?  I usually go to bed at this time! Why was I leaving my warm house when my car thermometer was saying it was -12 degrees outside?  Am I nuts?!!  Then I realized that it is the same reason I have been doing this every year for the last 30 years or so.  To see my friends, my colleagues, meet new people, learn more about veterinary medicine and finally, for the animals we all care for. I LOVE VETERINARY MEDICINE!!!  I LOVE BEING A VETERINARY TECHNICIAN/VETERINARY NURSE!!!


We need to take care of our heart to prevent damage and cardiac failure so that we can live long and healthy lives.  This means living a healthy work/life balance and not feeling guilty about taking the time we need for ourselves. 


Maybe we need a little help from our friends and maybe they could use a little help from us.  Think about doing something together at lunch time or after work. Stop and let yourself laugh for a good 5 minutes. Try doing a few pushups/jumping jacks with your co-workers at various times throughout the day.  Give yourselves a chance to regroup, together.  In the long run, it is not only helping you, but your teammates, our patients and the clients as well.


NAVTA is currently forming a Wellness Taskforce to identify and develop resources to help our profession with items such as this and much, much more.  Be on the lookout for more to come later in 2018.


January 2018

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

NAVTA President


As we move into 2018, I am honored to serve as your NAVTA president. I have acted as the NAVTA Ambassador for a number of years, encouraging colleagues to become NAVTA members, become actively involved in NAVTA’s mission when they were ready, and make a difference. Our profession is made up of individuals who want to make a difference. We became veterinary technicians/nurses because we want to make a difference in the lives of pets – and yes, the people that love them.


We make a difference with our words AND our actions. Let us make sure our difference-making is positive and uplifting. Instead of being down on a colleague who is late for work, reach out and ask if they are ok? The pet owner who purchased just one month of heartworm prevention, let us not judge, but rather schedule a reminder call for next month, so they are reminded to pick up heartworm medication for their beloved family member. We may not know the family’s water heater failed and they needed to replace it, or another unavoidable expense has left them short on money.


In today’s society, we are quick to judge and ridicule. Let’s make 2018 the year each of us focuses on listening and lifting each other up. Wow – talk about making a difference!


We see difference-makers in the individuals who help pets and their families during natural disasters as well as those individuals who stay late for a shift because they are the team member with whom the scared patient is most comfortable. We see difference-makers in the team member who meets the elderly owner at their car to assist in bringing their furry companion into the hospital. We see difference-makers in the team member who notices that a co-worker has been a little quieter, and reaches out to let them know they are there for them.


Is this you? It can be! In the words of John F. Kennedy, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try”.


I have always wanted to try to make a difference; in the lives of pets through proper nutrition, in the lives of people by simply making eye contact and smiling, and in the profession by getting involved and lending a hand. Have I made a difference? I do not know. What I do know is that I have tried and I will continue to try. Will you join me? Together we can move our profession forward and make quite a difference!


New Year, New Chapter

Blog Author: Jamie Rauscher, RVT

NAVTA Membership Committee Chair

As Chair of the Membership Committee I am looking to help NAVTA and its Members achieve greatness through opening lines of communication and showing members just what NAVTA can do for them.  As a Technician in the trenches, I feel I am able to bring a valuable perspective to NAVTA and speak for those who feel they have no voice. Over the past 5 years NAVTA has increased its membership numbers from 3,000 to over 14,000. That is speaking volumes in itself. Credentialed Technicians and Assistants are realizing the importance of belonging to a National Association that respects them and helps them grow to their fullest potential, all while learning what our members need from us in the journey this takes us on. 

I would like to see the Membership Committee continue to grow the number of members that are a part of NAVTA, allowing them to get more frequent, open communication from NAVTA as well as help people to utilize their membership to its fullest. I would also like to see NAVTA continue to work on the VNI, helping the initiative to reach its highest potential. NAVTA has increased its member communication this past year through email blasts and the revamping the Journal. We can only continue to improve this through outreach to our members, State Associations and Specialties. 

Over the next year I think NAVTA will continue to grow as an Association, creating new committees to help Technicians and Assistants professionally as well as personally. 

Run for the Executive Board? Uh, hell yeah! I hope to wear that President's hat someday, but for now, serving on committees with suffice!

My hope for the profession is recognition and respect for Credentialed Technicians and Assistants in the field of veterinary medicine. I long ago graduated from the false perception that Technicians spend their days playing with puppies and kittens to acknowledging that our days are truly spent nursing the ill, saving lives and helping others end theirs peacefully. I wish for others to see this as well. 


NAVTA's Membership Committee is starting out the New Year with a new Membership Chair. Jamie Rauscher is a Registered Veterinary Technician with over 22 years in the field. She is currently President of her home state's Veterinary Technician Association. As President of the Georgia Veterinary Technician and Assistant Association, she has been very active in procuring new memberships for the Association and helping them to provide quality continuing education for its members. She is also currently involved in several of NAVTA's committees. She is the Medical Manager at a large practice north of Atlanta. She is married, has a 13 year old son, a golden retriever and 3 cats, including a super cute sphynx kitten

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