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“NVTW – For the love of the job”

 

Blog Author: Julie Legred, CVT

NAVTA Executive Director

 

I have loved, and continue to love my career in veterinary technology, but there are definitely things about it that no person will ever understand unless you have experienced it yourself.  Even if you are currently a veterinary technician, you may not even understand what I am talking about until later into your career.

 

I have been a certified veterinary technician for over 32 years. Early in my career, I was the only veterinary technician employed at my first small animal practice. And remember in 1985, practice owners didn’t necessarily understand how to utilize a credentialed veterinary technician, or what they truly were or could do.  Being very young and brought up to simply “work hard” and do what was asked of you, I was a kennel person, a janitor, an animal restrainer, dog washer, a receptionist, along with some of the duties of a veterinary technician such as lab work, surgical technician (cleaning instruments and wrapping packs), radiography and person that was simply a means for the 3 doctors, or at least one of them, to go off on.

 

During that time, I also became a mom, so was pregnant as I inhaled ether for sedation, used an ancient radiography unit that you had to crank up and let it warm up for about 5 minutes before using the foot pedal, and as I was the only tech, most certainly was exposed, and exposed my first son to radiation, that was more than likely not appropriate.

 

We lassoed dogs, grabbed scruffs and hung on for dear life fearing that it would injure the doctor (God forbid) and yourself if you let go or lost control.  We also dispensed and “crushed up” for suspensions, a drug called Chloramphenicol, which we would later find out this drug had potential for causing anemia and other side effects.

 

Those were the early days.  My oldest son was born and because I had to pay daycare, and if you think you can pay rent, buy food, and pay daycare on full time employment in itself, especially as a single mom, you are in a world of make believe, so I not only had to work my full-time position, but two, part-time positions as well, just to barely make ends meet and NEVER got to see my son.  Thank goodness for my parents who watched him when they returned from work. Some people are not so lucky.

 

I later remarried and moved to a very rural area.  They were way behind the times there and I was told that I was overqualified for a technician position and they would not hire me.  I eventually gave up, had 3 more boys and started volunteering in my state and national associations.  I was eventually contacted to teach in a new veterinary technology program 1 ½ hours away, and did eventually take it and commuted daily. I was soon asked to be the Program Director.  What a rewarding experience, IF I only had to deal with the students, but unfortunately, as a for-profit program, they put ample pressure on doing things that I did not believe in, and when I eventually quit, they spread around that they had fired me, including to the national organizations I was involved with. Thank goodness, these organizations knew me better as a person and veterinary technician and did not listen to them.

 

I started doing consulting work and soon after was offered a position with a corporate hospital as their lead technician for their entire corporation.  This had a lot of national travel involved, but the interaction with many veterinary technicians was great and I loved it.

 

My current position as NAVTA’s Executive Director came about 3 years later and it was not an immediately paid position.  There was a considerably large amount of rebuilding that needed to be done, but I was so passionate about it, I took on the challenge and am still here today.

 

It sounds like I am complaining about being a veterinary technician and painting a horrible picture of my career path.  I’m really not!  Don’t get me wrong!  I LOVE my career and would not do anything differently.  I just want others to consider doing one thing differently than I did, as I have endured many pains in the last 10 years and not all of it has been physical. My personal story and experiences, are why I am passionately working for NAVTA, and for you - To advance the profession and ensure you are safe, well-compensated and healthy.

 

The most important thing to realize is that you have to take time to take care of yourself!  Do the things you enjoy.  Take time to go to your kids events and activities, spend every bit of time you can with your family, go to that doctor appointment, take time to do things for YOU!  If you do not, you won’t be able to take care of those things that are keeping you from taking care of yourself now.  In the long run, taking car of YOU is taking care of your family, your teammates, your clients and your patients.  You will be better all the way around by putting you first. I want to extend a very Happy National Veterinary Technician Week to all my colleagues. May you gain some insight from my story, learn from my mistakes, and value this profession as much as I do!

 

 

Living with Chronic Pain

 

Blog Author: Julie Legred, CVT

NAVTA Executive Director

 

As a tech with over 30 years of experience, I realize that the chronic pain I feel today is most likely due to things I did as part of the daily nursing tasks I did during the majority of my career as a veterinary technician/nurse. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my profession and would not change a thing about it.  I am one of the few that can say I have loved it from day one and am still loving it so many more years later.

 

The things we do and endure as veterinary technicians are very hard work, and it certainly wears and tears on our bodies, and in reality, our mental health too.  We are not warned about this in our veterinary technology programs as we are many other things such as our low salaries. The truth is, it probably would not stop us anyway, even if it was presented loud and clearly.

 

I have carpal tunnel syndrome to the point where, some nights I am up most of the night dealing with pain and numbness that shoots all the way up to my upper arms.  The pain in my back, knees and feet are also more than likely due to my career and playing super tech earlier on. Mental health is something all of us have to be aware of too, as depression can sneak up on you if you are not made aware of the symptoms and the reality of it all, we are of that breed that simply pushes things aside to take care of others and all of the furry, scaly and feathered creatures.  It’s simply in our nature, but we do need to start thinking about ourselves, because if you don’t start taking care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of all of the “others” around you. Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you pick up a dog and immediately feel a pain, ask for help. If you are restraining a cat and your hands and wrist start to cramp, ask for help. The worst thing you can do is ignore the pain and “push through”.

 

NAVTA is very aware of these things and is currently structuring a wellness area for all of you, that will include many resources to take advantage of. We care about our profession and the people in it.  We are here for all of you!

 

 

Pain and Me - National Pain Awareness Month 

 

Blog Author: Stephen Cital RVT, SRA, RLAT, VTS-LAM 

NAVTA Executive Board Member at Large

 

It is one of my favorite months as it is Animal Pain Awareness Month. Although I could talk or write on that subject for days, I thought I’d turn the mirror on myself, more largely our profession as veterinary technicians and nurses. We have a back, knee, wrist, mind, pretty much any-body-part breaking job. It is all too often I chat with older techs about their chronic pain from years on the job, and I no longer need to question why the turnover rate can be so high. With that, I wanted to share one of the things I do as I am now a 30-year-old with several years in the profession who would like to not have chronic pain from my job - or at least not exacerbate what aches and creaks I already have.

First and foremost, I try not to play “The Hulk” at work. As a man, I do fight the urges to display my obvious masculinity (you would laugh at this if you knew me) by lifting heavy patients or boxes delivered to the clinic. I always ask for help for items over 50lb or whatever I initially have the first thought “this is kind of heavy”. I know it may seem to burden others, but what is worse: asking for help for 1-2 minutes or not being able to get up on your own because of a bad back when you’re old, home alone, after a big bowl of chili…think about it.

I also would encourage you to ask your clinic to invest in a mechanical lift table. Most of these are on wheels and are perfect for delivering heavy patient in and out of the surgery suite, or even preventing techs/nurses from having to heave a larger patient onto a table. These lift tables also help maintain proper posture during an exam, and alleviate the stress and strain of having to kneel on a hard floor.

So, I hope you are not only an advocate for your patient, but also yourself. You are valuable. Protect your worth.

 

 

Leadership

 

Blog Author: Mary L. Berg, BS, RLATG, RVT, VTS (Dentistry)

NAVTA President

 

I love my profession!! It’s as simple as that!  I fell into this career by accepting a position as an administrative assistant for a small dental research group in 1992, but I have never looked back and wondered, “What was I thinking?”.  I was lucky enough to work with some wonderful people who encouraged me to learn more and advance my career in veterinary dentistry. 

When asked, why do you do everything you do, whether it be NAVTA, AVDT or the KVTA my answer is always, Why Not?  JFK said it best “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country”.  I took this to heart and asked myself, what can I do for veterinary technology/nursing?   I don’t do it for the fame or the accolades but rather because this is a profession I believe in and want to help it grow and become more than a job, but a career for technician/nurses.  I have been a part of some very exciting and scary endeavors over the years, including joining a group of dental nerds and starting the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians, starting my own consulting business, becoming a speaker and educator, being a board member and now President of NAVTA, and joining committees with the AVMA.  These opportunities have led to a path of personal fulfillment and pride in the veterinary technology/nursing field. 

I have been fortunate enough to speak to many veterinary technology classes and my advice is to always encourage them to never say “no” to an opportunity, no matter how much it scares you.  We grow as individuals when we challenge ourselves to step out of the comfort zone and take risks.  Many veterinary technicians are introverts, so taking this step can be extremely scary but coming from a recovering introvert, it is worth all the stress and fear.  I challenge you to do something that scares you, repel off a cliff (done it), jump blindfolded into deep water (done it, and by the way I can’t swim), or get involved you’re your local, state or national veterinary technology association.  Challenge yourself! To me, becoming a leader is not so much having people follow you, but rather, taking control of your life and your professional career.

 

 

Leadership

Blog Author: Julie Legred, CVT

NAVTA Executive Director

 

When I hear the word leadership, I think of many things. To me, leadership is a person or team that can provide positive oversight and direction within an organization, practice, initiative, etc. These individuals should not “run the show”, but provide encouragement and positive feedback for others to embrace and feel empowered to do their part.

 

People don’t realize that they are a leader in the everyday things that they do.  If you are a parent, have a job, play sports, or are a member of an organization, you are a leader. Others within these situations look to you for the correct answers and to lead them in the right direction.

 

I have found that I have been in leadership roles throughout my entire life.  I am the oldest of 3 kids, have volunteered in coaching sports and have been involved with association volunteerism. I have 4 boys, in which 2 are out of the nest and 2 are still at home, but even the older two, continue look to me for answers and advice.  I have been a Sunday school teacher. Many times, I have encountered moments where I am a leader, even if no title or recognition is available.

 

My veterinary technology career of over 32 years has also placed me in leadership roles.  From client education, mentoring student technician and veterinarian interns, training new technicians and staff, veterinary technology program instructing, program director, SCNAVTA Advisor, volunteer as treasurer, state representative, membership chair, and conventions chair for many years in the Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians, NAVTA President elect, president and past president and eventually  the interim executive director and the executive director of NAVTA for the past 5 years and so much more…

 

I have been involved with a lot. I truly believe the passion I have for our profession, with everything I do in the various roles, gives me the courage, faith, energy and drive needed to lead; but I do not do this myself.  There are many that help in these efforts and allow us to do what we do and make a difference.  Our passion drives us. There is nothing that we cannot succeed at IF we work together. 

 

 

Personal Leadership

Blog author: Jade Velasquez, LVT

President of Washington State Association of Veterinary Technician

Member of NAVTA's membership and PR committees

 

I feel leadership is the key to not only personal success, but the success of those around us. It’s easy to identityleadership with a title, but important to know that leadership is more a quality than anything else. Many great, kind and diplomatic leaders showed me what it meant to lead a team. Those people created awe, passion and confidence wherever they went. Through those people I learned, above all, to drive people towards their personal success and to fight for the greater good.

 

Leadership chose me. It took some time to embrace my natural qualities and identify what I found important. It came from taking many leaps of faith, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and keeping the mindset that everything that is meant to be, will be. I find it important to note that leaders are just ordinary people who took a chance and followed their heart. They identified what they value personally, and chose to make that their life motto. And people listen to that. Because the best leaders are genuine, always keeping progress a forefront and encouraging others to be amazing.

A great leader will always serve their people. Their colleagues, co-workers and equals are their motivation. It takes looking at the big picture of a clinic, association or organization and asking “What can I do to help these people reach their full potential?” “How do my words, thoughts and ideas create a culture that embraces growth, change and wellness?” What we do as leaders is on display. Our words and actions are a valuable precedent. If people can connect with you, they will follow suit. They will work to achieve common goals and create their own goals and contributions. 

Leadership in our clinics and community can create things that many never thought possible. By being honest, fair, passionate and dedicated to our team and profession we can create miracles. All it takes is finding your passion and diving into unknown waters. I look forward to swimming with many of you.

 

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”-Gandhi

 

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