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Heart Disease Blog

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

NAVTA Immediate Past President


A healthy mouth = a healthy body!  I often joke that I can tie good oral health into any discussion, but with the link between heart health and dental disease, I am not reaching too far for a connection.  February is not only National Dental Awareness Month for our pets but also Heart Health Month for us humans.  I can’t think of two topics that go better together!! 


Now, I’m not saying that every patient with dental disease will have heart issues or vice versa, but they are at a greater risk for complications.   It is well documented that chronic inflammation and resulting infection from periodontal disease can have a profound affect on the heart health of BOTH humans and animals.  Every time the animal eats or chews on a toy, the bacteria that is lurking in the mouth can be introduced into the bloodstream and lead to concerns with internal organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver.


A common myth is that the bacteria is only released into the blood stream at the time of a dental cleaning, however that has been proven incorrect.  The fact is the bacteria is released continuously throughout eating and playing.  Gingival tissue is very vascular and the mouth is full of pathologic bacteria. If the gum layer is disrupted, even a little bit, bacteria will get into the bloodstream, which can go anywhere and trigger inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is one of the main things that causes damage to blood vessels, including those of the heart.


Oral disease in both humans and companion animals is very similar.  The key word is inflammation. Periodontal disease begins with an inflammatory response to the bacteria present in the oral cavity. Gingivitis, which causes red, painful, tender gums, and periodontitis, which leads to infected periodontal pockets. Chronic inflammation can lead to permanent damage. 


We regularly tell our clients to take care of their pet’s mouths but we need to remember why it is so important to take care of ourselves as well.  Brush and floss twice daily and see your dentist every 6 months!  Your heart is depending on you!



American Heart Month - Stay Alive!

Blog Author: Virginia Rud, CVT 

NAVTA Exhibition Representative 


According to the American Heart Association, fewer women survive their first heart attack than men. This isn’t because women’s heart attacks are worse or more damaging. It’s because women tend not to recognize the signs and therefore delay seeking medical treatment. Although the terms “heart attack” and “cardiac arrest” are frequently used interchangeably, it is important to understand the difference. A heart attack is the result of decreased blood flow to the heart muscle while cardiac arrest is the failure of the electrical impulse that causes the heart contraction. The key difference is that a heart attack can occur over a period of hours or even days. And this is, ultimately, the reason that more women die.


As women, we tend to have this ingrained sense that we are obligated to meet our responsibilities regardless of how we feel, and that often leads us to overlook the messages that our bodies are trying to send us. While the stereotypical symptoms of a heart attack usually involve someone clutching their chest and immediately collapsing, in truth, most heart attacks start long before that acute collapse phase. And unfortunately for women, many of the early symptoms are subtle and may mimic other conditions.


Here’s my story. I was preparing to travel to a very important event. I hadn't slept in over 36 hours because of nerves, excitement, poor time management…yada, yada, yada. And for roughly the previous 10 hours, I felt like I was having a bad case of indigestion and my upper back hurt.  So, I ate about half a bottle of antacids, took some ibuprofen, ignored it, figured it was just from the all the stress and it would go away.... 


It didn't. 


When I finally got to the airport and sat down to wait to board the plane, it occurred to me that, even with all the antacids and NSAIDS, the indigestion and back pain hadn’t subsided at all.  It finally clicked that my body had been trying to tell me that “something” wasn’t right. I went to the gate agent and started to explain that I wanted to reschedule my flight because I was having these weird pains and I pointed to my chest. Here's a tip for everyone: if you indicate "chest" and "pain" in a public place, be prepared for the response! Within moments, I was surrounded by airport police and paramedics and then I was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. And even at this point, heart attack was still the furthest thing from my mind. Yet within an hour of arriving at the ER, I experienced a full cardiac arrest. Full arrest…


The moral of the story is, thankfully, I finally listened to what my body was telling me, and in enough time to get help. Had I opted to ignore the pain and chosen instead to board that aircraft, well, you would’ve spent the past few minutes reading something else.


Heart attack signals for women can include tightness in the chest resembling indigestion, back and neck pain and nausea with or without the more traditional symptoms of chest pain or pain in the arm or jaw and shortness of breath. It is important to listen to your body and recognize when “something” isn’t right. We need to trust our intuition and act upon it. If we go to the ER and it turns out to be indigestion, so be it. But if it isn’t, then we get the opportunity to stay alive. 



February Blog

Blog Author: Julie Legred, CVT

NAVTA Executive Director



Is it a coincidence that Heart Health Month is February?  I mean February 14th is Valentine’s Day and known as the day of “hearts”.


When I was young, I truly thought that my heart was “heart” shaped, but we all know that isn’t true.  When we think of a heart, many times we think of love and compassion, but in reality, our heart is something that pumps blood throughout our body to keep us alive.


I want to grow and excel in my career as a veterinary technician/veterinary nurse and by doing all I can to continue learning and connecting/networking.  I believe this does my heart good, as it is something I enjoy and am very passionate about.  Doing “things” we like to do and working with people we like and enjoy takes some stress out of our daily lives, but it can also push us to do much more than we really should be doing, or puts an amount of pressure on ourselves that is more than we are capable of doing or is healthy for us to be doing.


I got up this morning at 2:30am to leave the house at 3:30am to catch a flight to Orlando for VMX.  As I drove to the airport, I was trying to think of something that I could write about relating to our “heart health” theme this month, but all I could come up with was writing about how we should take care of ourselves.  Same ol’ thing that you hear over and over again, but when I finally got on the plane and sat down to write this, my mind started to think and wonder a bit.


Why in the world did I get up at this awful hour?  I usually go to bed at this time! Why was I leaving my warm house when my car thermometer was saying it was -12 degrees outside?  Am I nuts?!!  Then I realized that it is the same reason I have been doing this every year for the last 30 years or so.  To see my friends, my colleagues, meet new people, learn more about veterinary medicine and finally, for the animals we all care for. I LOVE VETERINARY MEDICINE!!!  I LOVE BEING A VETERINARY TECHNICIAN/VETERINARY NURSE!!!


We need to take care of our heart to prevent damage and cardiac failure so that we can live long and healthy lives.  This means living a healthy work/life balance and not feeling guilty about taking the time we need for ourselves. 


Maybe we need a little help from our friends and maybe they could use a little help from us.  Think about doing something together at lunch time or after work. Stop and let yourself laugh for a good 5 minutes. Try doing a few pushups/jumping jacks with your co-workers at various times throughout the day.  Give yourselves a chance to regroup, together.  In the long run, it is not only helping you, but your teammates, our patients and the clients as well.


NAVTA is currently forming a Wellness Taskforce to identify and develop resources to help our profession with items such as this and much, much more.  Be on the lookout for more to come later in 2018.


January 2018

Blog Author: Kara M. Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition)

NAVTA President


As we move into 2018, I am honored to serve as your NAVTA president. I have acted as the NAVTA Ambassador for a number of years, encouraging colleagues to become NAVTA members, become actively involved in NAVTA’s mission when they were ready, and make a difference. Our profession is made up of individuals who want to make a difference. We became veterinary technicians/nurses because we want to make a difference in the lives of pets – and yes, the people that love them.


We make a difference with our words AND our actions. Let us make sure our difference-making is positive and uplifting. Instead of being down on a colleague who is late for work, reach out and ask if they are ok? The pet owner who purchased just one month of heartworm prevention, let us not judge, but rather schedule a reminder call for next month, so they are reminded to pick up heartworm medication for their beloved family member. We may not know the family’s water heater failed and they needed to replace it, or another unavoidable expense has left them short on money.


In today’s society, we are quick to judge and ridicule. Let’s make 2018 the year each of us focuses on listening and lifting each other up. Wow – talk about making a difference!


We see difference-makers in the individuals who help pets and their families during natural disasters as well as those individuals who stay late for a shift because they are the team member with whom the scared patient is most comfortable. We see difference-makers in the team member who meets the elderly owner at their car to assist in bringing their furry companion into the hospital. We see difference-makers in the team member who notices that a co-worker has been a little quieter, and reaches out to let them know they are there for them.


Is this you? It can be! In the words of John F. Kennedy, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try”.


I have always wanted to try to make a difference; in the lives of pets through proper nutrition, in the lives of people by simply making eye contact and smiling, and in the profession by getting involved and lending a hand. Have I made a difference? I do not know. What I do know is that I have tried and I will continue to try. Will you join me? Together we can move our profession forward and make quite a difference!


New Year, New Chapter

Blog Author: Jamie Rauscher, RVT

NAVTA Membership Committee Chair

As Chair of the Membership Committee I am looking to help NAVTA and its Members achieve greatness through opening lines of communication and showing members just what NAVTA can do for them.  As a Technician in the trenches, I feel I am able to bring a valuable perspective to NAVTA and speak for those who feel they have no voice. Over the past 5 years NAVTA has increased its membership numbers from 3,000 to over 14,000. That is speaking volumes in itself. Credentialed Technicians and Assistants are realizing the importance of belonging to a National Association that respects them and helps them grow to their fullest potential, all while learning what our members need from us in the journey this takes us on. 

I would like to see the Membership Committee continue to grow the number of members that are a part of NAVTA, allowing them to get more frequent, open communication from NAVTA as well as help people to utilize their membership to its fullest. I would also like to see NAVTA continue to work on the VNI, helping the initiative to reach its highest potential. NAVTA has increased its member communication this past year through email blasts and the revamping the Journal. We can only continue to improve this through outreach to our members, State Associations and Specialties. 

Over the next year I think NAVTA will continue to grow as an Association, creating new committees to help Technicians and Assistants professionally as well as personally. 

Run for the Executive Board? Uh, hell yeah! I hope to wear that President's hat someday, but for now, serving on committees with suffice!

My hope for the profession is recognition and respect for Credentialed Technicians and Assistants in the field of veterinary medicine. I long ago graduated from the false perception that Technicians spend their days playing with puppies and kittens to acknowledging that our days are truly spent nursing the ill, saving lives and helping others end theirs peacefully. I wish for others to see this as well. 


NAVTA's Membership Committee is starting out the New Year with a new Membership Chair. Jamie Rauscher is a Registered Veterinary Technician with over 22 years in the field. She is currently President of her home state's Veterinary Technician Association. As President of the Georgia Veterinary Technician and Assistant Association, she has been very active in procuring new memberships for the Association and helping them to provide quality continuing education for its members. She is also currently involved in several of NAVTA's committees. She is the Medical Manager at a large practice north of Atlanta. She is married, has a 13 year old son, a golden retriever and 3 cats, including a super cute sphynx kitten. Her interests include Emergency and Critical Care, Anesthesia and Pain Management. She is currently pursuing her VTS in ECC. 



Looking Forward!

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

NAVTA Immediate Past President


“Success is no accident.  It is hard work, perseverance, learning, study, sacrifice and most of all love for what you do!”  -Pele


It is hard to believe that my year as the NAVTA President has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean I’m done!   As I move into the role of Immediate Past President, I will continue to be involved with the process of growing this organization in order to better serve our members. Many of you may not realize that the Presidents (Elect, Current, and Past) along with our Executive Director meet on a weekly basis to discuss matters that effect our organization and profession.  The time commitment for of all our leaders has been huge, but we do it for the love of our profession.  Each and every one of you matter to us and we are working hard to ensure that we are doing the best things possible to move our profession forward. 


Advancing Veterinary Nursing and Veterinary Technology!  That is the mission of NAVTA and I firmly believe that we, as the leaders of this great organization, remember this mission with every discussion and decision.   As a people pleaser, I found the hardest part of being a NAVTA President this past year was the inability to make everyone happy.  As a leader, I know that every decision will not please everyone, but the hard decisions are made based upon the needs of the entire membership and for the good of the profession.  The Presidents have spent hours discussing all the angles and possibilities before a topic is presented to the executive board.  The NAVTA executive board has done a phenomenal job with the due diligence necessary to make decisions.  For many, this may seem like decisions are not made fast enough, but ensuring the best decision is made takes time. 


Where would I like to see NAVTA this next year?  I would love to see the organization continue to grow in membership numbers, increase benefits to members, and to be a source for all information for Veterinary Technicians/Nurses and Veterinary Assistants.  Have you looked at the list of benefits lately?  Check it out on the website!  Did you know that NAVTA has a career center where companies can list job offerings and will help review your resume?   An investment in the creation of a white paper and video on building TEAM + TRUST + TRAINING = Team Satisfaction is being released.  A National District Representative System is now available to help disseminate information to state leaders. There are so many things NAVTA is working on to improve the lives of our members but it takes YOU to become involved, whether it be at a local, regional, state or national level.  We can’t grow without you! 



Looking Ahead

Blog Author: Erin Spencer, M.Ed., CVT, VTS (ECC)

NAVTA President Elect


I was so excited to learn I had been elected president-elect of NAVTA for the upcoming year.  I’m coming off my term as president of the Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association (MVTA) and am very much looking forward to transitioning to the past president role there and starting this new chapter at the national level.


So, why did I run?  What do I want to do with the next three years as president-elect, president, and immediate past president?  Well, in my tenure as president of the MVTA, my goal was to take the organization to the “next level”.  For me, that meant getting us organized, making us sustainable, and working toward elevating the profession of veterinary technology in Massachusetts. I feel like I’ve worked towards each of these goals and left the MVTA a bit better off than I found it, which is what every president should strive to do. My successor will take the reins now and move it even further while I get to focus on my project of mandatory licensure for veterinary technicians in the state.


I guess I am looking to have the same goals as I move through the next three years with NAVTA. I think we have come a long way but still have a lot to do.  I want to be able to help us ensure sustainability and advance our profession.  The specific projects will be different from those I encountered with the MVTA, but I hope to continue utilizing the same methods I have used for the past several years, including listening to our members, encouraging involvement, and working with the rest of the NAVTA board to look at each project, task, or challenge from all angles and then making an informed decision.  It has seemed to be a good formula so far so let’s hope it stays true!



NAVTA January 2018 Blog

Blog Author: Julie Legred, CVT,

NAVTA Executive Director


As I look over the past few years and the growth NAVTA has endured, I know that we still have room to grow.  It’s exciting, yet very scary because as numbers grow, so does the need for staff and volunteers to accommodate this growth.


They say you need to spend money to grow and sustain, but staff and day to day office functionality cost money and much more than most people even know. The entire NAVTA Board and office team take membership dollar spending very seriously. We have many initiatives that we hear you want NAVTA to take on and do our very best to encompass all of these in our budget.


We know communication and member benefits and experience are very important and we are doing our best to improve.  I feel we have brought many new opportunities into play in 2017 and have added 4 more office team members of some capacity to help with member services.  We are getting more companies reaching out for partnerships and support than we ever have.


I would love to have our membership numbers increase. With more members, we have a larger voice and more money to contribute to our initiatives that ultimately benefit our membership, our profession and when it comes down to it, out patients…the animals and public.  We are standing behind our profession and paving the path for our future.  When voices come together, the louder we are and the more we are heard.


I feel NAVTA has worked very hard and has achieved many great things in 2017.  We aren’t perfect, yet, but believe me I see so much energy every day within our Board and office team, it gives me added excitement for 2018 and all NAVTA’s initiatives.  Our profession is gaining momentum and I cannot wait to see what 2018 unleashes for NAVTA, its members and our profession.


Happy 2018!  Cheers to us and our entire profession working together to achieve all of our goals, health and happiness!


Never Say No to an Opportunity!

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

NAVTA President


Recently I was paging through Facebook and saw a post from a Veterinary Technician that had been fired from her position with little to no explanation of a reason.  She was devastated as you would expect but I was amazed at the support from other individuals that had been in the same situation but landed on their feet and found a better opportunity with a position that appreciated them.  I thought about this and realized that this has happened to me as well.


My story happened before I was involved in veterinary medicine.  I had just moved to the town I now refer to has home, had two young children and my husband was on the road a lot.  I had accepted a bookkeeping position in a small bookstore near the campus that barely covered daycare but I needed to be employed for my sanity!  I had a background in both management and a bookkeeping prior to taking this entry level position.  Needless to say, within a few days I wasn’t thrilled with the job and my coworkers and I were not a good “fit” but I thought everything was going fairly well so I was extremely surprised when about 2 weeks into the position, I was let go.  I was devastated as I had never been “fired” before.  I remember picking my boys up from daycare, sobbing and feeling like a complete failure.  (Later, I learned that my former co-worker wanted to hire her friend that did not have the same qualifications as I brought to the position!)


After wallowing in self-pity for a bit before I realized it wasn’t me that was the problem in this situation. I had always had excellent employee reviews and had been awarded several honors in previous positions.  I continued to search for the perfect fit and I found it. I was offered a position as an administrative assistant with a small companion animal dental research company in town.  This company was owned by a PhD who realized my potential and always challenged me to grow, learn new skills and do things that scared me.  Including my first presentation at a veterinary conference and I was a nervous wreck, Dr. H came onto the stage, took the pointer from me and whispered, “everyone is getting motion sickness due to your shaking.”  Boy, was I embarrassed!


Dr. H allowed me to continue to develop my presentation, management, leadership and veterinary skills while encouraging additional education in both Laboratory Animal Medicine and Veterinary Technology.  Thirteen years I was the Vice President of Operations when we mutually parted ways professionally.  Dr. H wanted to return to his roots in human dentistry and I just couldn’t go there!! (eww, right!)  Dr. H’s belief in everyone that worked for and with him, encouraged all of us to continue to grow in our chosen areas.  I would not be a business owner, researcher, educator, speaker, Veterinary Technician Specialist without his belief in me. 


The moral to this story is to never let a bad situation define who you are, it is simply the opinion of another person who may have issues we don’t understand.  It’s ok to feel bad about something not working out the way you planned but don’t let that rule your life.  Stand up, know who you are, what you can do, and move forward!  Never say no to an opportunity, you never know where it can lead!!



Smile and the World Smiles with You                                                                                                                                         

Blog Author: Kara M. Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition)

NAVTA President Elect


“Let your smile change the world, but don’t let the world change your smile.”


Why did you get into veterinary medicine? Other than for the money, of course!  ;-)


Kidding aside, why did you? Do you remember? I think the majority of us would say honestly, because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of pets, had a strong scientific interest, and caring and compassionate nature.  I am sure this does not cover everything, but I want to bring us back to our original excitement and wonder!


Not an easy task in today’s society. We are inundated with constant negative stimulus. From the uneasy political climate to horrific natural disasters to heartbreaking hoarding situations, not to mention the compassion fatigue we face in our daily practice, our lives are constantly encumbered with harmful and damaging discord.


With all of the negative strife in the world, let us remember the “Why?” Why did you get into veterinary medicine? We still have that keen scientific mind that wants to understand how the physiology of a cat plays a role in the development of LUTD. We want to understand how certain nutrients help to manage disease conditions in pets (or is that just me??) , and we want to comfort every frightened animal that comes through the door to let them know the veterinary hospital is not a scary place.


Think back to your original ‘Why’. Wouldn’t it be great to apply my thirst for knowledge to a noble profession and make a difference in the lives of pets and the people who love them? Remember that first puppy visit – when a happy go lucky 12 week old yellow Labrador retriever lumbered into the hospital with an excited family? Come on - I can see you smiling!


I smile everyday thinking about a parrot with which I assisted the veterinarian in an overall physical exam, beak and nail trim. When we were finished, I placed the parrot on the exam table and as I was leaving the exam room heard “Thank you”. As I responded ‘You’re Welcome’ – I realized it was the parrot that had thanked me!  See – Smiles!


Every one of you have a story like this. Go back to your ‘why’ and it will bring excitement, wonder, and yes, smiles. Many of you have heard me say before that our society doesn’t smile as much and that pains me. Please do not stop smiling. Yes, we live in a serious and sometimes scary world. But remember your ‘Why’ and allow yourself to smile. It will change the world!


Job Hop?

Blog Author: Rebecca Rose, CVT

NAVTA Immediate Past President, PR Committee Chair


As a veterinary technician, beyond my 50th year, life has offered a lot of incredible experiences, learning opportunities and moments of reflection. I feel fortunate as my life has been rewarding, full of incredible adventures and love. You may be thinking, yeah, yeah, you live a "charmed life." Quite the contrary, I have experienced ALL of life's ups and downs, but my approach to the circumstances and outcome is taken in a loving, learning approach instead of "woe-is-me, life has been so hard." Life has been a wonderful journey and I continue to embrace all of its splendor. 


If someone were to scrutinize my career they may determine I "job hop." I worked at a rural, mixed animal hospital on and off for 13 years (taking time off from working in a veterinary hospital to watch my young children), then I moved to Denver (my mother brought my children over the mountains to spend weekends together-hugs to my mom for ALWAYS being my biggest supporter!), where I became the first paid administrator for the Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians, for a little over a year (I became Home-Sick!). After that I worked in various veterinary hospitals, began a relief veterinary technician business (wrote the Relief Veterinary Technician's Manual), worked for industry partners (often a couple at a time), managed two veterinary hospitals, physically built 5 homes in a local Mutual Self Help Build Program, wrote books (Career Choices for Veterinary Technicians) and continued to "expand my career," or job hop. In some people's mind, all that job hopping may be seen as a failure. I experienced every career veterinary technology has to offer! 


Over the past few years my second husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, my father died of lymphoma and I have been diagnosed with breast cancer (stage zero). In these experiences there has been concern, opportunities to learn more from an intimate point of view and empathy for everyone that has been touched by cancer and death. In some people's mind this may be cause for rage and pain. I became more knowledgeable of the diseases, empathetic and accepting of loved one’s mortality. 


My point is this, life is full of experiences and feeling (acceptance, wonder, anger, frustration, love and compassion) and in all things, it is how we react to the challenges and adventures that defines our character. In my world, there is no such thing as failure, there is life and the earthly experience. Embrace ALL of it, learn, love and grow through it.


Failure to Succeed?

Blog Author: Julie Legred, CVT

NAVTA Executive Director


We may consider failing a bad thing, but when it happens, is it really failing or is it really part of gaining momentum to succeed in our lifetime?


We all seem to dwell on the “bad” things that happen to us, but what if we took these things and viewed them in a more positive manner?  Everything that happens to us is a learning experience that enables us to grow into who we are, and actually helps us know what makes us happy in our day to day lives and helps in our overall wellness too.


Being fired, not fitting in, being bullied, not getting the grade we had hoped for on a test or in a class, failing in a relationship/marriage, experiencing financial problems, losing a loved one, making a costly mistake, etc. are all things that most of us have, or will experience in our lifetime.  These are the things that we can take and try to put a positive spin on.


Taking these experiences and understanding that maybe the workplace we were fired from wasn’t a fit for us - whether it be the team, the management, the mistakes we had made, etc. -and taking that experience and learning that there are other options and teams that appreciate our personality, understand that people make mistakes and are willing to help us learn and grow from these can actually save us from spending time in a practice, place or situation that we probably weren’t happy there in the first place.


During our lifetime, we have to realize what is making us happy and move away from things that don’t.  Failures are not failures at all, but rather negative experiences that impact our growth and shape us into the people we are, and who we want to become.  As long as we are living life to the best our abilities, working as hard as we can, but having fun in the meantime, this will over rule the negative and take us down the road to the “perfect” place and life that is meant for each of us.


There are so many opportunities for veterinary technicians today and in the future.  Make your experiences, good and bad, work for you in strengthening the road to your brightest and happiest future.


Happy Holidays!


Julie Legred

NAVTA Executive Director


Warning Signs - National Caregiver's Month


Blog Author: Virginia Rud, CVT

NAVTA's Exhibition Representative and Admin Assistant 


As we close out November, National Caregiver’s Month and move full force into the holiday season, I want to give other caregivers some things to ponder. While there is a great deal of information about how important it is to take care of yourself, it always surprises me when I hear another caregiver say, “I’m fine” because I don’t think that they truly know they are not “fine”.  Here is a list of things for caregivers to consider:

1.     How many times have you felt unexplained physical pain? Back aches, shoulder pain, other unexplained little aches and pains that you can’t attribute to picking up that 80 pound Labrador?

2.     How often do you get whatever “crud” is going around? Are you one of those people that catches every cold or stomach bug that comes along? I’ll bet you still went to work anyway or continued your normal routine, right?

3.     When was the last time you enjoyed a good night’s sleep?

4.     How often to you feel exhausted, even though you think you’ve had enough sleep?

5.     How’s your appetite been? Has it changed? Do you experience digestive problems?

6.     How often do you find yourself getting unreasonably angry about something, then a little while later realize that whatever it was wasn’t worth being THAT angry about? Have you had to apologize for something you said in anger?

7.     Have you responded defensively to constructive criticism?

8.     Have you been so frustrated by something that you feel like you’ve lost control of your emotions?

9.     Have you felt like you have trouble concentrating, or remembering things?

10.  Do you sometimes feel like you just don’t or can’t care anymore?


                  In November of 2008, I experienced a full arrest heart attack. I was 44 years old. I had been taking care of my mom who had Parkinson’s disease for the previous 5 years, and naturally, she was becoming more and more dependent. The year before, my brother had come to live with me and was diagnosed with cancer. It was a short battle and we elected hospice care for him in my home.  I had also recently switched jobs, going from working full time in a busy practice to full time teaching. But throughout all of this, I was “fine”.  Until I wasn’t.


                  As I went through recovery, I learned a fair amount about stress and stress management. Remember when you learned about the sympathetic nervous system? That “fight or flight” system that is designed to keep us safe? Remember that feeling you experience when someone jumps out and scares you? In truth, your body can’t differentiate between someone jumping out and scaring the heck out of you, and the constant, relentless stress that caregivers experience. Imagine going around all day in the same state you are right after you’ve been really, really scared! Newsflash! You really are.


So, if more than one or two of the things listed above applies to you, you’re not fine. Think of these things like the dashboard warning lights on your car. They’re telling you that something is wrong. You take care of your car when you see the warning signs, so make sure you take care of yourself, as you, unlike your car, are not replaceable. If you choose to ignore them, your engine will probably seize up…or your heart will stop…



Blog author: Aimee Potter, CVT

Member of NAVTA's PR committee


“You can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself first.” I have always tried to live by my own quote, but it becomes hard to do sometimes. We think we have to put others first, whether that be family, our patients, or our coworkers. To give the best care, we have to be at our best. We need sleep, good nutrition, and play time. Yes, I said play time. If this means taking a 30-minute nap at lunch, a walk around the park, or a Friday night dance party, just do it. We get so wrapped up in taking care of others that we forget about ourselves.

I look around my workplace and see all sorts of people - very serious individuals to those having a little fun at their own expense. We need to have balance at work, and home to be successful caregivers. Give yourself some “Me” time every day. Take an extra 5 minutes in a hot steamy shower with your favorite music turned up loud. Go for a walk and breathe deeply. Snuggle on the couch with your favorite book. And don't forget to eat! Take your lunch break, eat a good dinner, treat yourself to that great cup of coffee you love once in a while. It's ok.

I also truly believe we need to take care of each other. Recognize when others are struggling and get them to take care of themselves. This has always made me feel better about me, and take the steps to recognize the struggle within myself. We can have longevity in our field, but only if we take care of ourselves first. If you’re not happy and healthy who will be there for them?

Take Care of Yourself

Blog author: Jade Velasquez, LVT

Member of NAVTA's membership and PR committees


November is National Caregiver’s Month and by being in our chosen profession, we pride ourselves on being excellent caregivers. We nurse the wounded and heal the broken. We administer live saving treatments and always make time to snuggle our patients if they need it. We bring home bottle baby kittens or foster pets, with intention of giving them all the love, kindness and care possible. Caregiving is what we do., it’s who we are.


But what happens when we forget to take care of the caregiver? Burn out, compassion fatigue, and depression are just a few examples of what happens when we keep giving, and never take. We forget that to be our best, we must make sure we are able to have time to enjoy the things we love outside of our job. We must learn to identify and enforce boundaries, to have a little time for ourselves. We are important and we can’t forget who we are outside of caring, giving and helping constantly.


When I first started in the field, I absolutely gave 100% of myself to vet med. I stayed late, came in early and ate lunch in between emergency surgeries. I fostered, took home patients and woke up at all hours of the night nursing bottle babies. I loved it. Still do. But that was all I did. After years of giving, I found myself exhausted, divorced, depressed and wondering where I went wrong. Becoming a mother, my priorities shifted as I had another human being I was responsible of being healthy, balanced and present for.


Change doesn’t come easy. It took years of setting boundaries, holding myself accountable for not allowing work to consume me. I love what I do, but also know that to be the best caregiver, mother, daughter and person, I must put myself as a priority. You all are valuable outside of your job. Don’t lose yourself in the process. We need you here. 




Blog Author: Julie Legred, CVT

NAVTA Executive Director


This November we celebrate caregivers, and boy do we fit into this category!  Last month we celebrated veterinary technicians/veterinary nurses and the advocacy and care we provide to animals and clients daily, but many times as we well know, this caregiving does not stop once we leave the doors of our “day jobs”.


Many of us go home to families of our own, including furry, feathered and/or scaly family members.  We all know that technicians tend to adopt the pets needing the most care, or that no one else wants, and these special animals weigh heavy on our hearts.  We do what’s needed to make them as happy and as comfortable as possible, even if it means we are eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all the time, and putting their care and therapy ahead of our going to the gym, or spending that time to ourselves that is much needed in preparing for the next day.


Some of us have kids that need to be chauffeured to and from their many activities, payed with, fed, prepared for bed, etc., in which we would not want it any other way.  Many of us also may have older or disabled family members needing special care and assistance, and we are looked to as being part of the “medical field” as the best or only ones to care for them.  This in itself, can weigh very heavily on ourselves.


About a year ago, my mother-in-law was found on the floor of her living room, extremely weak and disoriented from heart complications.  My husband’s immediate family is made up of one sister that lives out of state, and his father who passed away a few years back. She went to a nursing home facility for about 2 months, but was pretty much left there on her own, so it was my boys and I that made certain we drove the hour each way to see her just about every day until she was “ready” to go home.  Truly, she should not have just gone home.  She should have been placed in an assisted living facility because she was so fragile and had so many medications to give throughout the day, as well as very restricted dietary needs.


My husband just dropped her off at her house when she came home, his sister did not come back at all when she was released, and so it was once again left up to me to care for her.  I didn’t mind, I was happy to do it, but it did pose some complications with my daily work load.  I made a makeshift office at her house, I had to rearrange business trips for work, and sometimes forced to leave my work very quickly to deal with her emergencies and doctor appointments. This went on for a good part of 6 months.


I was lucky to have support from my friends and co-workers to get me thru last year, but I know some of us may not be that lucky, so I just want to keep reminding all of you that our personalities are all different, but much the same too.  We care very deeply for the patients, clients, family and people we serve, and who we are closest to, and will do just about anything to provide the care that they need to make them as happy and as comfortable as possible.  We CANNOT do this unless we take care of ourselves as well.  Make sure you are talking to friends and co-workers about some of the things you are dealing with.  You need this to get thru everything you deal with.  Take time to care for yourself, even if it is for just an hour watching your favorite TV show or reading a book at night.  Take time to go to the gym or get to that doctor and/or dentist appointment, so you can continue to be healthy and can provide the care others rely on you for.


NAVTA is here for you!  Our membership is a great group and a very powerful resource, so please allow us to help in any way we can, and know we support you in all that you do!




Blog Author: Rebecca Rose, CVT

NAVTA Immediate Past President


It saddens me to see NVTW come to an end for a few reasons. One, it is the last time I will be on the NAVTA Board as the Immediate Past President, and simply the focus on veterinary technicians and veterinary teams within veterinary practices may lesson after the week. But there are ways we can continue to celebrate and support each other all year long! 


It has been quite a pleasure to serve you (NAVTA members and the veterinary community) for the past three years. With HIGHS and lows during the past three years, for sure. 


Highs include moving from a national organization ran by management groups to being "self-governed." The NAVTA Executive Board, Committees and Task Force embraced the idea and RAN with IT! We pulled up our sleeves and went to WORK. In a brief period of time we implemented a number of best practices in association management, built high functioning committees, collaborated with state and national organizations and created policies to help guide the organization. We wrote a Leadership Manual, met consistently on a monthly basis and formed a solid foundation. I am proud of the work they have done and have great faith in the work they are committed to doing, moving forward.


I am most appreciative and proud of NAVTA Leaders when they stepped up to the plate to help me last year upon diagnosis of stage zero breast cancer. Definitely a LOW! It was not an easy time and the support I received was incredible when I asked to step away from pressing duties of being NAVTA President, temporarily, to tend to myself, seek treatment, have surgery and make difficult decisions. A TESTEMENT to being surrounded by passionate, competent and caring technicians! The phrase "We got your back" rings true in this case. 


I echo Julie's words from her recent post, “In the long run, taking care 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". Know you are surrounded by passionate, competent and caring team members. When you do take time for yourself, they will cover for you. Such is the experience I received from the NAVTA Board.


Lastly, celebrate your veterinary team YEAR 'ROUND! We accomplish incredible feats each and every day! Take time to celebrate personal and professional achievements. Take time to take care of yourself, knowing your team’s “got your back,” supporting you because they are compassionate, competent and caring team members. 

Here's to celebrating very teams all year 'round! RR  


“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.





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.




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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