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Nov/Dec 2016

Oral Decontamination in Dogs and Cats
Nov/Dec 2016, Toxicology

Oral Decontamination in Dogs and Cats

Erin Freed CVT, BAS | ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Erin has been employed with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) since 2006. She earned her associate’s degree in applied science in veterinary technology from Parkland Community College and her bachelor’s degree in applied science in veterinary hospital management from St. Petersburg College in 2016. Erin’s interests include toxicology, but her true passion is sharing knowledge and educating veterinary staff. She has been an instructor for a toxicology continuing education (CE) course for the Veterinary Support Personnel Network and has spoken at several APCC CE conferences. Erin has had peer-reviewed articles published in Veterinary Technician, the NAVTA Journal, and Veterinary Medicine and has authored a chapter on the renal system in Small Animal Toxicology Essentials.

Decontamination to minimize or prevent clinical signs of toxicosis is an important step in managing poisoning cases. Read this article to learn about common methods of oral decontamination.

Editor's Letter
Nov/Dec 2016, Practice Management

Am I a Veterinary Nurse?

Lynne Johnson-Harris LVT, RVT | Editor in Chief

Ms. Johnson-Harris has been involved with the NAVC as a speaker and moderator since 1990. She was the first veterinary technician to serve as an elected Board member of the NAVC serving the Board from 2003 to 2015. Ms Johnson-Harris was also the first veterinary technician to serve as the President of the NAVC (2013-2014). Along with being the Editor in Chief of Today’s Veterinary Nurse journal, Ms. Johnson-Harris is the NAVC Specialty Programs manager and works as the practice manager working along side her husband, Dr. Jerry Harris at Hinckley Animal Hospital.

What’s in a name? As NAVTA explores the Veterinary Nurse Initiative, discussion around the term “veterinary nurse” is growing.

First and foremost, I don’t think you are broken and in need of fixing. But I am concerned about something: you and your sustainability as a veterinary technician. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asking my compassion fatigue seminar and workshop participants the question, “How many of you consider yourself a healer?” Less than 10% of my audiences do, and I’ve noticed that most who do are veterinarians. This got me thinking…a lot. Merriam-Webster defines healer as one who heals. So I dug a little deeper. What is the definition of heal? “To become healthy or well again; to make (someone or something) healthy or well again.” Stop me if I’m wrong, but is that not what veterinary medicine is all about? I wondered what I was missing and why veterinary professionals aren’t identifying with their work in this way, especially veterinary technicians and nurses. Healer or Not This idea of healer goes back to the keynote speech given in August by Dr. Dan Siegel, neuropsychiatrist, at the American Veterinary Medical Association conference in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Siegel spoke very candidly about the suicide rate plaguing veterinary medicine and said something I’m still thinking about. He said, “The problem is, we have a community of healers that haven’t been taught to heal themselves.” Is he on to something? I sure thought so. What I wasn’t prepared for is that so many people in veterinary medicine don’t consider themselves healers. While it may not be necessary to claim “healer” status, what is necessary is to recognize that to provide care to another being in a sustainable way, we have to take care of ourselves first. This is not intuitive to anyone in a caregiving role. When we put ourselves last on the list, why are we surprised when we feel stressed, anxious, depressed, depleted, or exhausted? It is our job to meet our needs, no one else’s. We can’t wait for others in our life to tell us to take a day for ourselves or go for a walk. That responsibility falls in our hands. We need to ask for what we need, unapologetically. What You Need Based on psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs,” all human beings need the following: Sustenance/Health Safety/Security Rest Autonomy/Authenticity Creativity/Play Meaning/Contribution Love/Caring Empathy/Understanding Community/Belonging Can you identify needs that are not being met in your life? Most of us can, and that is okay. The question is, what can you do to fulfill those needs? We need to realize that the extent to which our work is traumatizing is the same extent to which we need to balance it with self-initiated action aimed at meeting our needs. This is not something we can ignore or hope will go away. I recently met an LVT who has been a veterinary technician for 30 years. She told me that asking for what she needs from her family is much of what has sustained her in her career. She asks for “alone time” routinely and time to transition when she comes home from work. Her family knows that she needs 20 minutes or so to decompress after work. This is how she meets her need for rest. If you live with others, what do you need to ask for to take care of yourself? If you live alone, what is one thing you can start doing daily for yourself? It doesn’t have to be very time consuming. Finding 10 to 20 minutes a day to gift yourself is often enough. What Gets in the Way The most common reason I hear for not attending to ourselves is that it is selfish. Au contraire, mon frère. Being selfish is when we care only for and about ourselves. That is not at all what I’m suggesting, and if you are reading this, I am absolutely certain that you are incapable of it. As a veterinary technician, you are called to serve others. It’s part of who you are. That is beyond commendable, and I am grateful that you are in this world, serving animals in the way that you do. But. It is unreasonable and unrealistic to think that we can serve others, give the best of ourselves and our hearts, and not have to do anything to maintain that beautiful well within. How long will your car run if you never refill the tank? What are you telling yourself about why your needs don’t matter? Remember, our thoughts determine our feelings.a Our feelings dictate our actions, and our actions determine our results. Said another way, what you choose to think determines your outcome in life. So if your thoughts are along the lines of, I don’t deserve to take time for myself, why is that what you are choosing to think? Could you consider a thought like, I’m good at what I do, I care deeply for my patients/animals, and I know I’m better when I take time for me. How You Start Your Day Matters I study under many of the personal development thought leaders of our time, and I’ve found that they all follow their own very intentional morning routine to set their day up for success. I do too. My routine involves excellent coffee, real food, meditation, and exercise. Sometimes my exercise becomes my meditation, but the routine is non-negotiable. I. Do. It. Every. Morning. Sustenance and health are enormous needs of mine that I honor every day. Sometimes this means I have to get up earlier depending on my travel schedule or the day’s activities. I do it anyway, because I know that following my routine will dramatically improve the quality of my mind, body, and soul for that day. I’ll be better able to serve those I care for and feel better about myself. When the start of your day is consistently filled with chaos, and then you go to work in the often unpredictable world of veterinary medicine, it is too easy to set yourself up for failure in your well-being and emotional state. Be a Rebel I’m asking you to break out of the traditional box of caregivers and practice giving to yourself. Be rebellious and stare down martyrdom. Don’t be surprised when your mind chatters back, because it inevitably will. There will always be something else you should be doing other than gifting to yourself. Do it anyway. A workshop participant recently told me that she had started honoring her need for creativity/play by taking a weekly painting class, something that she once really enjoyed and had decided to give to herself again. She told me how she fights with herself every week about it. Her mind will say things like, You shouldn’t go, you have so much laundry to do. But instead of giving in to this subtle, “practical” sabotage, she pushes back and decides, No, this is something I’m doing for myself. I really enjoy it, and it makes me feel good when I do it. The laundry isn’t going anywhere. We all have this mind chatter. The best thing you can do with it is: 1. Anticipate it Expect that your mind will try to derail you from your self-care efforts. Prepare for it. Think about what you will tell yourself when your mind tries to talk you out of going for that walk, doing yoga, enjoying a cup of tea outside, or reading a book for pleasure. 2. Acknowledge it I literally say, Oh I see you, or Oh you again, to my mind chatter. I know I am not my mind,a so when I recognize my mind trying to talk me out of what is in my best interest, I just smile and acknowledge it. I don’t dwell on it or believe it, but I let it know I see it. 3. Answer it in a way that best serves you This is where we can decide to think differently. Many people believe their mind chatter and never dream of answering it from their heart, No. I need to and deserve to have some time to myself. This will become much easier the more you do it, so don’t give in to your old way of thinking. As a veterinary technician, you’ve been given the rare gift of being able to aid in the healing of others—animals—and people. You’ve made a difference in more lives than you will ever know. If you also believe you have this gift, then please honor, cherish, nurture, and feed it. The only thing holding you back from being the best version of yourself is your own thoughts. Thankfully, you can choose different thoughts any time you want. Why not start now? 
Nov/Dec 2016, Personal Wellbeing

Veterinary Technician, Heal Thyself

Julie Squires Rekindle, LLC

Julie is a compassion fatigue specialist who brings a unique perspective and approach to support the sustained energy and passion of animal workers. Her company, Rekindle LLC, offers on-site compassion fatigue training to veterinary hospitals, animal shelters, and other animal organizations.

Julie has more than 20 years of experience within the veterinary field and with leading organizations. She has developed and executed training, workshops, and 1:1 coaching for major companies in the animal health industry. She obtained her certification as a compassion fatigue specialist through the Green Cross Academy of Traumatology and has also completed training from The Figley Institute and Traumatology Institute. Julie’s clients also gain from her experience as a certified health and wellness coach and corporate wellness specialist.

As a veterinary technician, you’ve been given the rare gift of being able to aid in the healing of others. Are you meeting all your own needs to be able to sustain yourself?

Radiographic Positioning: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, Part 1
Nov/Dec 2016, Radiology/Imaging

Radiographic Positioning: Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes, Part 1

Liane K. Shaw BS, RVT | Purdue University

Liane grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana, on a small hobby farm with horses, goats, pigs, chickens, geese, cats, a dog, and one duck named Daffy. A 10-year member of 4-H, she followed her passion for animals by applying to the veterinary technology program at Purdue University, where she earned not only an associate’s degree, but also a bachelor’s in applied science, with a minor in organizational leadership and supervision.

After working as a supervisor in private practice for 6 years, Liane returned to Purdue to pursue her love of teaching. In the past 9 years as Purdue’s Diagnostic Imaging Instructional Technologist, she has completely remodeled the diagnostic imaging curriculum to include many labs for a more hands-on approach. In 2011, she received a Teaching Excellence award from Purdue University and Elanco Animal Health. In 2013, she spoke at Purdue’s fall conference on the topic of dental radiography.

Liane stays busy by spending the evenings outside with her husband and two sons on their 22-acre farm in Attica, Indiana, which is home to horses, dogs, cats, and a donkey!

Jeannine E. Henry BA, RVT | Purdue University

Jeannine was born and raised in Logansport, Indiana, where she welcomed any opportunity to spend time with animals. In 2005, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English, in pursuit of her passion for reading and writing, but soon realized that something was missing from her life: her love for animals. While working at a private practice, she was introduced to the role of veterinary technician. She graduated from Purdue with an associate’s degree in veterinary technology in 2007.

One month after graduation, Jeannine accepted a position at Purdue University as a Versatech, a position created to fill gaps in various departments all over the hospital, including diagnostic imaging. This was how she discovered her love for radiology. She has now been working in diagnostic imaging for
6 years and is PennHIP certified.

In her spare time, Jeannine enjoys reading, writing, cooking, and spending time with her husband, son, two dogs, and adopted blood donor cat. She hopes to combine her love for animals and writing in the future to pursue a career in journalism for the veterinary medicine profession.

This first of two articles on veterinary radiographic positioning provides an overview of radiation safety as well as the techniques used to obtain good-quality orthopedic radiographs of the skull, shoulders, and elbows.

How to Recognize Autoimmune Skin Disease: Tips for Spotting Pemphigus Foliaceus
Nov/Dec 2016, Dermatology

How to Recognize Autoimmune Skin Disease: Tips for Spotting Pemphigus Foliaceus

Jennie Tait AHT, RVT, VTS (Dermatology) | Guelph Veterinary Specialty Hospital | Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Jennie is a charter member and the current secretary of the Academy of Dermatology Veterinary Technicians and is currently the only VTS (Dermatology) in Canada. Jennie is also a member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians, where she holds RVT certificate #4, as well several other veterinary organizations, including the Canadian Academy of Veterinary Dermatology. She has more than 30 years’ experience in veterinary medicine, including 24 years of teaching veterinary students at the Ontario Veterinary College and more than 15 years’ experience specializing in veterinary dermatology. Jennie is an accomplished speaker and is currently waiting on her contribution to a dermatology text for technicians to be published.

Pemphigus foliaceus (PF) is the most common autoimmune skin condition in dogs and cats. Timely diagnosis is essential. This article is intended to help the healthcare team narrow in on a diagnosis of PF at a patient’s initial presentation.

Geriatric and pediatric patients have differences in physiology, pharmacology, and anatomy. Yet their anesthetic needs are often very similar to each other.
Nov/Dec 2016, Anesthesiology

Opposite Ends of the Life Cycle, Similar Anesthetic Needs

Brenda K. Feller CVT, RVT, VTS (Anesthesia and Analgesia)

Brenda graduated from Michigan State University, one of the first veterinary technician programs in the United States. She has worked in private practice, a university anesthesia department, and specialty practices during her career. She is not only a board member at large of the Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Anesthesia and Analgesia, but also a member of the academy’s examination, preapplication, and conference committees. She is married to Doug, a retired veterinarian, with three grown children and a growing number of grandchildren! Doug and Brenda share their house with a rescue Westie mix.

Brenda is a frequent speaker at major conferences and teaches online anesthesia classes. In her spare time, she likes to rollerblade and read nonfiction.

Geriatric patients are generally assumed to be at higher risk than healthy young adults when undergoing anesthesia, but healthy pediatric patients should also be approached as challenges for the anesthetist. This article provides an overview of anesthesia considerations for both old and young patients.

Feline Physical Rehabilitation
Nov/Dec 2016, Rehabilitation

Feline Physical Rehabilitation

Mary Ellen Goldberg BS, LVT, CVT, SRA, CCRA | Canine Rehabilitation Institute, Wellington, FL

Mary Ellen is a graduate of Harcum College and the University of Pennsylvania. She has been an instructor of anesthesia and pain management for VetMedTeam since 2003. In 2007, she became a surgical research anesthetist certified through the Academy of Surgical Research. In 2008, she became the executive secretary of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management. In addition, she is on the Proposed Organizing Committee for the Academy of Physical Rehabilitation Veterinary Technicians for the formation of a NAVTA recognized VTS-physical rehabilitation program.

Mary Ellen has written several books and contributed to numerous chapters regarding anesthesia, pain management, and rehabilitation. She has worked in various aspects of veterinary medicine ranging from small animal to zoo animal medicine.

Although rehabilitation is more commonly used for dogs, cats can also benefit from many of the same techniques—even swimming! Learn more about the whats, hows, and whys of feline physical rehabilitation.

The Case for Veterinary Midlevel Professionals
Nov/Dec 2016, Practice Management

The Case for Veterinary Midlevel Professionals

Kenichiro Yagi MS, 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.

Mandy Fults MS, LVT, CVPP, VTS-CP (Canine/Feline)

Mandy has over 17 years of experience as a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT). She obtained her certification as a Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) in Canine/Feline Clinical Practice in 2011 and is a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner (CVPP). She obtained a master’s degree in veterinary biomedical science in 2018 through the University of Missouri. She is employed by Comanche Trail Veterinary Center in Liberty Hill, Texas, as the veterinary nursing supervisor. Her primary interest is internal medicine, with endocrinology as her passion, and is an active advocate for the advancement of the veterinary nurse profession.

This year, the 13th veterinary technician specialty—ophthalmology—was recognized by NAVTA. Is time for a new level of veterinary technician? This article looks at the parallels in the growth of the veterinary technician and nursing professions.