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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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