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News, Spring 2019,

Honoring the Best: Dr. Earl H. Rippie Veterinary Nurse Awards

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.

Honoring the Best: Dr. Earl H. Rippie Veterinary Nurse Awards
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‘‘I believe that every individual on the team has the potential to be a leader, and on the best teams, every individual is a leader.’’

What does leadership look like in a veterinary healthcare setting? I believe that every individual on the team has the potential to be a leader, and on the best teams, every individual is a leader. When you are part of a team, leadership can be defined as helping one another to be best. Helping one another strengthens the entire hospital. Stronger hospitals provide better-quality medicine. Every one of us, at some point in our careers, has had help from a “leader”—a teacher, a parent, a coach, a friend, maybe even a random stranger. This guidance is empowering and helps mold us into stronger, more confident individuals, who, in turn, strive to make a difference in someone else’s life.

The late Dr. Earl H. Rippie, Jr., a former president and secretary-treasurer of the NAVC, recognized the value veterinary nurses bring to the healthcare team and the significant contributions they make in promoting the well-being of animals. In his memory, the NAVC established the Dr. Earl H. Rippie Veterinary Nurse Leadership Scholarship, which recognizes veterinary nurses who have demonstrated leadership abilities and have made a positive impact on the growth of the profession or in their practice (for details on applying, visit navc.com/vmx/scholarships/veterinary-nurse-leadership-scholarship).

This year’s recipients—recognized during VMX 2019—truly are leaders:

Janet Murray

Perth, Western Australia

After growing up on a New Zealand dairy farm, it was a natural fit for Janet to begin her career in 1996 as a veterinary nurse. Janet studied and served in London and Ireland for several years, and in 2012, she moved to Perth, Australia. After a brief stint in a sales role, Janet became a lecturer for Certificate IV veterinary nursing at South Metropolitan TAFE, in Bentley, Western Australia.

“I am so excited to have received the Dr. Earl H. Rippie Veterinary Nurse Leadership Scholarship,” Janet says. “It quantifies everything I have done to date within the veterinary industry and validates my position as a leader within the community. This scholarship epitomizes the leader whose name is given to the award. It is amazing supporters of veterinary nurses like that of the late Dr. Rippie who recognize our important position within the industry. I am humbled to be the recipient of this international award and hope that I can continue to influence veterinary nurses to strive to be the best they can be. I am still only scratching the surface of what it is to be a veterinary nurse.”

Janet is president of the Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia, was one of the first veterinary nurses invited to sit on the Australian Veterinary Association’s Veterinary Business Group, and is editor of the Australian Veterinary Nursing Journal.

Kari Griffith, LVT, VTS (Dentistry)

Everett, Washington

Kari has worked in the veterinary field since 1984. In 1992, she became a licensed veterinary technician in Washington state. In 2013, Kari earned her credentials as a veterinary technician specialist (Dentistry) from the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians, only the third person in Washington to successfully complete the training and earn the designation. Kari also helped develop a healthcare and first-aid training program for police departments and K9 handlers in Washington’s Puget Sound area, and she has spoken at many canine training seminars.

“It truly never occurred to me that I would be one of the recipients of the Rippie scholarship,” says Kari. “I have always been passionate about sharing my knowledge with others. If I can just share one tidbit with someone about their pet, improve pets’ health, or educate at least one person in the veterinary field, then I feel I’ve accomplished what I set out to do as a veterinary technician. I believe we are never too old to learn and we need to constantly test our brains. I am forever grateful for this amazing opportunity and I was very excited about attending VMX and to begin sharing.”

Julie Ann Nettifee, RVT, BS, VTS (Neurology)

Apex, North Carolina

“It is difficult to fully put into words all of the impacts that this opportunity has in store for both myself and the profession,” says Julie. “Although I did not know Dr. Rippie personally, his support of veterinary nurses demonstrates his compassion, love, encouragement, joy, and recognition of us all. I only hope that through this scholarship that I too can be a part of continued advancement for the profession and help to continue his legacy of care toward his patients and their caregivers.”

For more than 20 years, Julie has been on the staff at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She currently supports clinical research in neurology and nutrition, teaches, and conducts outreach. Julie trained at the University of Minnesota, Waseca, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has experience in public relations, technical writing, and grant research and writing for North Carolina State. She has presented locally, nationally, and internationally, and she has authored numerous articles on veterinary nursing.