9 Lessons I’ve Learned From Vet Techs!
Every year the veterinary profession honors its unsung heroes by celebrating National Veterinary Technician Week. Though we rely on them every day to do tons of our heavy lifting, we don’t often give them enough credit — not in public anyway. Appreciating them every third week in October is one of the many ways in which we express our gratitude for all they do.
In honor of their dedication and devotion here are 9 valuable lessons that one veterinarian learned from vet techs.
1. “Holding hands” (aka teaching). Despite the fact that we’re taught in school the best way to learn a procedure effectively is via mentorship (“watch one, do one, teach one”), once out in practice, we tend to think ourselves superior to the task and forget all about the importance of teaching.
Veterinary technicians never forget this. They know that a big part of their job involves training new staff members. We also know that the best techs are the best teachers. Given that reality, veterinarians should emulate our best and take on some of the teaching duties, too.
2. It’s OK to hug your clients. When first out of school, I felt it “unprofessional” to hug my clients. Expressing sympathy was best done with a few choice words. My techs, however, taught me that a well-timed hug is way better than words in certain instances. The hard part is getting the timing right.
3. It’s OK to cry. Nurses cry; doctors don’t. That fallacy has probably led to more pent-up stress than any other in medicine. Those who deal in life-and-death issues like we do should feel free to cry whenever they need to. Techs taught me that, too.
4. Never be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is a critical skill, not least because you can’t easily keep learning without it. Veterinarians, however, sometimes forget this as soon as they leave school behind.
5. To err is human; to admit to it is part of being a great pet nurse. No one likes to admit she's wrong, but people with fancy degrees (doctors, especially) seem especially loath to cop to it. Veterinary technicians, however, seem to have been taught to check their egos at the door.
6. Fashion should take a back seat to comfort. I’ve spent the better part of my career bucking the comfortable clothing thing. As I see it, clogs are for little Dutch girls and sneakers for running. Why should I wear either of the two? Twenty years later, I’m willing to wear scrubs and sneaks, but only because vet techs finally brought me around to it.
7. Never ever let anyone see you’re having a bad day. As a breed, technicians tend to keep it together in front of patients, pet owners and co-workers, regardless of whether they’re having a crappy day or not. We should all take a page out of this book.
8. All those pockets are good for something. Fill them! One tech I know carries bandage scissors, hemostats, pens, writing pads, thermometers and even syringes in her scrubs. It’s like a clown car in those pockets! Would that I could be so thoroughly organized!
9. Patients are No. 1. Always. This is the best thing about veterinary technicians. They will always push back whenever they believe that what’s being asked of them is not in their patients’ best interest. The hierarchy for them is plain: Patients always come first. None of us should ever lose sight of that.
Happy National Veterinary Technician Week! And a big thank you to all the techs who helped me throughout the years.
(Information provided by Dr. Patty Khuly VMD at www.vetstreet.com)
With October right around the corner, Oronoque Animal Hospital begins its Senior Pet Health month in which we offer great discounts for our senior pets! Read below to get some helpful information on how to care for our senior family members as they get older.
The term “senior” has been chosen to describe aging/older pets. The number of years it takes for your dog to be considered “senior” may vary, and one must keep in mind that organ system, species, and breed of dog has an effect; in general a dog’s senior years begin between 6 and 13 years of age. (Find your dog on the age chart.)
The AVMA says that as a result of improved veterinary care and dietary habits, pets are living longer now than they ever have before. That means that dogs can be ‘seniors’ for a significant portion of their lives, leaving their guardians and veterinarians facing a whole new set of age-related conditions. In turn, developing good health habits for seniors is becoming even more important.
There are a number of things we can do to introduce healthy lifestyle habits to our dogs, and it’s never too late to start taking these steps. Pet health organizations like AAHA and the AVMA have already developed some great healthy guidelines for senior dogs, and I have my own tips to offer.
This is one very basic healthy habit to develop for the benefit of your dog, and particularly for a senior dog. You can hardly pick up a magazine without seeing an article urging you to live a healthier lifestyle. Sadly, the risks of obesity are too often overlooked in our canine friends. Recent data, available from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, shows almost 53% of dogs as overweight or obese. Obesity decreases a dog's life span, increases his risk for various cancers and metabolic diseases (like diabetes), and causes orthopedic complications—just to name a few of the possible consequences. Feed your dog a balanced diet containing high quality ingredients in amounts appropriate to maintain a good weight.
The habit of regular exercise will help maintain your dog’s weight and general health. Be reasonable in your expectations for intensity and duration of activity and consult your veterinarian. He knows your pet’s health and limitations, can help you design a safe exercise program and can also recommend medications, if appropriate, to allow your senior dog to exercise more comfortably. Non steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can be a great help in reducing discomfort, and other drugs or nutraceuticals may improve flexibility and mobility. However, ONLY use products that are recommended by your veterinarian, and only as prescribed. Some medications are very dangerous when combined.It may take more time and some coaxing to keep older pets active, but it is well worth the effort.
One very important habit to develop is regular veterinary care. Only about 14% of senior animals undergo regular health screening, as recommended by their veterinarians1. AAHA recommends health exams every 6 months for senior dogs. Early detection of disease is crucial; routine testing is important to establish baseline levels and “insure that there are no clinically silent health abnormalities.” In addition, your veterinarian is trained to evaluate your dog’s health and well-being and to make individualized recommendations to keep your senior dog healthy and active.
Increased attention to dental/oral care is even more important as your dog ages. Your veterinarian can advise you not only about any indication for dental cleanings in the clinic, but can also point out possible problem areas and instruct you regarding appropriate at home cleaning and care. Make a habit of good, routine oral hygiene. [Learn more about dental care for dogs here.]
According to CAPC, all dogs, regardless of age, need to be protected against parasites (fleas, ticks, heartworms, etc.). However, as your dog becomes older, changes in activity and lifestyle may affect his need for routine vaccinations against infectious diseases. That doesn’t mean he won’t need any vaccines. It just means that you and your veterinarian will need to have periodic discussions to determine what vaccines are still necessary and at what intervals they should be administered. You may also want to view the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines.
Older dogs may have special grooming needs, particularly long haired dogs. Regular grooming is an excellent habit to get into. More idle time lying about and less activity can predispose seniors to more matting of hair and longer, unruly nails. Older, thinner skin can be more sensitive to irritation and more likely to be traumatized. Urinary incontinence can cause urine scalding. Excessive drooling can irritate facial folds. Increased grooming not only promotes healthier hair and skin, but it also creates an opportunity for visualizing and monitoring not only your dog’s skin but also overall body condition.
Undoubtedly the greatest need when caring for a senior dog is patience. As your dog ages, he may not see as well or hear as well. But old dogs are especially attuned to their masters - treasuring their presence and touch. Even when your old dog doesn’t respond physically to your touch, voice or presence, he needs your companionship and attention for mental health and emotional well-being. Without it, he will pine away.
In summary, be sensitive to any changes in your senior dog. Even subtle changes can be an indication of significant health issues. When in doubt, consult with your veterinarian and see your veterinarian at least every 6 months.
Call us today to schedule your senior's wellness checkup and to get our senior wellness discount during the month of October!
(Information provided by pethealthnetwork.com)
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