Summer 2020, Personal/Professional Development

A Light in the Storm

Kara M. BurnsMS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition), VTS-H (Internal Medicine, Dentistry), Editor in Chief

Kara Burns is an LVT with master’s degrees in physiology and counseling psychology. She began her career in human medicine working as an emergency psychologist and a poison specialist for humans and animals. Kara is the founder and president of the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians and has attained her VTS (Nutrition). She is the editor in chief of Today’s Veterinary Nurse. She also works as an independent nutritional consultant, and is the immediate past president of NAVTA. She has authored many articles, textbooks, and textbook chapters and is an internationally invited speaker, focusing on topics of nutrition, leadership, and technician utilization.

A Light in the Storm
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Unprecedented: As we address the day-to-day realities of a drastically changed world amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to hear that word as a fitting descriptor for these times. As veterinary medical professionals, we believed we were prepared for most anything. But this pandemic is not “most anything”—it is unprecedented. Nevertheless, veterinary teams are resourceful and have proven the ability to maneuver through the ambiguity with skill and ingenuity.

Veterinary nurses are resilient. The pandemic reinforced this as they worked to adapt and make the best out of the situation. Stress and anxiety are palpable, but what I see are veterinary teams diving in to help—help their clinic, fellow veterinary teams, human-medicine counterparts, pet owners, and of course, patients. They’ve donated PPE to human hospitals, made masks for colleagues after their shift is finished, covered shifts for colleagues who have children out of school, and comforted pet owners curbside while taking appropriate precautions.

Difficult times can bring out the best and the worst in individuals. I am so proud to see my colleagues lifting each other up and working to provide the best care for patients. We rise by lifting others. This is clear now more than ever.

Amid uncertain times, a few things shine through. We see how human and animal health are interconnected, and also the importance of our connection to the community—locally, nationally, and globally. And with that comes the importance of advocacy. We see individuals advocating for more PPE, better working conditions, and help for their fellow medical professionals. Veterinary nurses advocate for their patients, advocate for their team members, and advocate to do what they believe is right. The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) has formed an animal community alliance known as Embrace, giving veterinary professionals a platform to advocate for animals everywhere.

Policymakers at the local, state, and federal level make decisions every day that may impact the veterinary community, pets, and the people who love them. It is imperative that we monitor and respond to these policies by sharing our feedback and experiences. Embrace makes it easy to monitor relevant action at every level of government, helping advocates stand behind legislation like the One Health Act and the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act. Animals everywhere need a voice—be that voice for them, and make yours heard, by signing up today (navc.com/advocacy).

These are stressful times. Everyone is anxious and has many questions. Remember to take each question as it comes. Listen and give fact-based answers in a calm and reassuring tone. People are scared. Be knowledgeable and positive and above all be kind. Thank you to each of you for doing what you do, every day.

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