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Summer 2018, Personal/Professional Development

NAVTA 2018 Technician of the Year Award

Heather PrendergastRVT, CVPM

Heather has spent over 25 years in small animal practice, teaches veterinary technology and assistance programs, and is the author of Front Office Management for the Veterinary Team. She lectures on topics ranging from grief management for health care professionals to nutrition, inventory, communications, and veterinary team management. She has also written several articles and participated in published roundtable discussions on these topics.

Currently, Heather provides consulting services for veterinary hospitals and is an instructor for Patterson Veterinary University and VetMedTeam. She serves on several advisory committees and is the Program Chair of the Technician Program at the North American Veterinary Conference. Heather was named the 2014 Veterinary Technician of the Year and Continuing Educator of the Year for 2016 at the Western Veterinary Conference.

Kenichiro YagiMS, RVT, VTS (ECC, SAIM)

Ken has spent nearly 20 years in practice. He obtained his VTS certification in emergency and critical care, as well as small animal internal medicine, and earned his master’s degree in Veterinary Science. He served as ICU Manager and Blood Bank Manager at Adobe Animal Hospital until 2018, and is now Program Director for the RECOVER CPR Initiative and simulation lab manager of the Park Veterinary Innovation Laboratory at Cornell University. He co-chairs the Veterinary Nurse Initiative and serves as a board member of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society, the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians, and the Veterinary Innovation Council.

NAVTA 2018  Technician of  the Year Award

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) presents annually the Veterinary Technician of the Year (TOY) Award to individuals who provide leadership to the profession and also contribute to the association’s goals and overall advancement in the field of veterinary nursing and technology. The award recipient is determined by reviewing leadership positions held within the association, leadership positions held within the veterinary technician community at large, contributions to professional development and continuing education, community service, and other special achievements.

The 2018 award recipient is Mary Ellen Goldberg, BS, LVT, CVT, VTS LAM, SRA, CCRA, CVPP. Mary Ellen has made various contributions to boards such as the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management the Academy of Physical Rehabilitation Veterinary Technicians, and she has also published articles related to her fields of expertise.
We interviewed Mary Ellen and asked her about her insights into the field
and its future.

Q: What has led you to be so involved with the profession?
A: I’ve been a veterinary technician since 1976 (that’s 42 years as an LVT), and I believe it has led me to feel the need to move our profession forward, especially with the specializations that have developed. My intense interest in pain management has encouraged me to develop knowledge and skills that I never thought of many years ago. When I became a veterinary technician, we literally were little more than glorified kennel help. However, with the passage of time, veterinary technicians have proven their value as a necessary member of the veterinary profession.

Q: What do you think of the veterinary nurse’s role in specialty?
A: Absolutely vital! Just as there are advanced certifications in human nursing such as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), there is a Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) certification in Anesthesia and Analgesia; we have many other VTS specialties, too. It is vitally important that we continue to establish our roles in specialty fields. The Academy of Physical Rehabilitation Veterinary Technicians certifies individuals with advanced knowledge of biomechanics, gait, orthopedic, neurologic function and especially pain behaviors. A role that is analogous to physician’s assistants or nurse practitioners in the veterinary field is also possible through further education. While veterinary nursing is still in its infancy, I see future development just like this occurring.

Q: What do you think of the Veterinary Nurse Initiative and the future of our profession?
A: Growing up as a child of a nursing educator and being in and around human hospitals, I have been a proponent of this title since I was in school. I have long felt and seen that the duties of veterinary nurses have evolved into many similar duties as human nurses. I do not agree with the statement, “I do so much more than a human nurse ever could.” Oh really?! If a human nurse worked in a practice that was privately owned and small, who do you think would be taking radiographs? Who would be assisting with surgeries? Who would be sterilizing instruments? Who would be counseling patients? That’s right, it’s the nurse’s job.

Q: What do you think of the veterinary nurse’s role in telehealth?
A: The world is now a global community and is proving daily that there is no corner of the planet that’s so out of reach. I see an ever-expanding role of the specialized veterinary nurse in telehealth.

Q: What do you think of the veterinary nurse’s role in laboratory and research?
A: Another topic that I am well acquainted with. Having been a part of laboratory animal medicine since 1996, I have not only been involved in highly specialized anesthesia/analgesia cases, but I have been a surgical assistant, contributing to surgical procedures for neurosurgical, wound healing, orthopedic studies, pharmacological studies, geriatric and genetic studies, just to name a few. The veterinary nurse’s role is crucial as a research assistant and/or lab manager. They ensure patient safety and many times are the ones who are seeing that regulations are followed.

Q: Any other thoughts regarding the role of veterinary nurses?
A: My dream is to one day see our profession universally viewed as educated and skilled veterinary nurses. I don’t think I will be alive to see this! (laughs) I have attended continuing education meetings with MDs, RNs, DDS, PhDs and thoroughly enjoy comparing the similarities between human and veterinary medicine. So many advances in veterinary medicine are coming from the human segment because that is where the majority of evidence is based. We have much work to do, but we all must push forward each day.

If you would like more information on nominations for the Veterinary Technician of the Year Award, visit navta.net and go to “vet tech of the year.” Nominations are open from July 1 through September 1, 2018.