We’ve all been there, we’re out with some friends, or we’ve gone home for Thanksgiving, or you meet someone new. It’s a question that we probably get asked all the time. “What do you do?” Well, we can compare ourselves to our human medicine counterparts, or we can try to explain what we do on a daily basis. However, I’ve found that the best way to explain my career is to tell them what I can’t do.
I recently made a poster for VIP day at the WCVM outlining this very conversation. I think this is a great way to show how much value an RVT can add to their clinic. This means that the doctors can focus on their main duties, RVTs can generate their own income in a clinic, and we get to do more of what we love! The 3rd and 4th year classes of the WCVM were very receptive to this idea and seemed eager to get into practice with us.
So, what can’t an RVT in Saskatchewan do?
An RVT cannot diagnose, but we CAN:
Provide counsel for clients
Measure patient progress
Create treatment plans
Run diagnostic tests
Position for and capture radiographs
Retrieve samples and prepare for export
An RVT cannot prescribe, but we CAN:
Calculate appropriate doses
Educate clients on side effects
Order medications for inventory
Audit control-drug logs
An RVT cannot perform surgery, but we CAN:
Perform anesthesia and monitor
Prepare and position patient for surgery
Explain presurgical requirements
Counsel clients about aftercare
Retrieve urine by cystocentesis
Suture minor lacerations
What else can we do?
Dentistry – including extractions*
Apply or change bandages and dressings
Discuss and plan nutritional requirements
Do laboratory work
Insert and maintain urinary catheters
Properly restrain animals
Perform a complete oral exam
Anything our veterinarian tells us to!
* Under the direction and supervision of a Veterinarian
So the next time you’re at a family gathering and uncle Bob asks you (for the hundredth time I’m sure) “what is it that you do again?” You can reply “Well uncle Bob, it’d be a lot quicker to list the things I don’t do!”
To say that these last three weeks have been a whirlwind would be an understatement. There have been changes and updates daily and even hourly from international, national, and local resources. There have also been the flood of emails from everyone you’ve ever given your email address to about what they are doing at this time for your protection and the protection of their employees. It was much.
It was an interesting time also for the me as your Executive Director trying to navigate and assist SAVT members, SAVT Board of Directors, the SVMA, and other provincial associations. I closed the SAVT office and moved it into the apartment that I share with my partner and Congo African Grey parrot. Our apartment is about 400 square feet and we now have an African grey, the SAVT office, my student work, my partner’s co-op position, and my partner’s school all running out of the apartment. We had to buy TV tables as all of our other spaces now have computers on them.
My school is a masters degree in disaster and emergency management which is where this all gets interesting. I’ve been viewing this entire pandemic from the lens of an executive director of your association and a disaster manager and I want to share with you a thought.
One of the greatest frustrations I’ve heard from RVTs and DVMs since I started in this position is that people don’t listen to the nutrition recommendations they are given, use Dr. Google to make their own diagnosis, and don’t listen to their post-op instructions and care when you are the professionals. You are only doing and sharing your wisdom about what is best for your patient. Well – Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, is the professional here and listening to her makes sense and is crucial. Whether it’s isolation, physical distancing, or when and where to seek medical assistance it’s important to listen to the professionals and respect their wisdom and knowledge.
As you are navigating this please let me know if there is anything I or the SAVT can do to assist and we will do our very best to give you that assistance or direct you to someone who can.
From the desk of the SAVT Executive Director, Jasmin Carlton (and by desk I mean the card table I borrowed from my aunt to make into a desk during this period of self isolation)
The SAVT is excited to share a number of different projects and programs that we are launching, piloting, and passionate about. We are worried that they are getting lost among each other as we release them so we wanted to put them all in one spot so they are easily accessible to everyone.
There is a section of the website that you can now review everything we have going on all in one spot.
Submitted by Breanne Barber, RVT, SAVT President-Elect & RVTTC Director
Recently, I was asked to give a presentation to the third year Western College of Veterinary Medicine students on life in practice. When I was first asked to give this presentation, I was not sure what to say or how I should go about getting my point across on how to utilize Registered Veterinary Technologists to their full potential and use them as part of the veterinary team. I thought I would talk about all the duties and responsibilities that an RVT can do in practice…well that list just kept getting longer and it was too much to fit on just one slide. Then, I thought about when I am in a group of my peers, colleagues or other professionals what do we talk about… we tell stories! That was it! I would tell stories on how my profession as an RVT was utilized in practice to assist the DVMs and other members of the veterinary team.
While I was making my slideshow, I wanted to make sure that my stories would accompany pictures of the patients that I had helped treat in hospital. You never really realize how many pictures are on your phone until you start looking for specific ones… I have over 1,200! I also asked Veterinarians that I currently work with and worked with in the past to give me quotes or advice they would like to give to the students. I got a wide variety of advice and I am thankful for to all the Veterinarians I have worked with over the years that I have made lasting professional connections with. I find myself texting these Veterinarians for advice on cases, dosage recommendations or any new continuing education they have taken that may help with a case we are struggling with in clinic. I have created my very own veterinary information network just by having connections with all the amazing professionals I have connected with over the years.
I created a slideshow that was 26 slides long that ranged in a wide variety of cases where an RVT was utilized to their fullest potential in practice. There were slides for the tough cases, interesting cases, the fly by the seat of your pants cases, the sad cases, teamwork cases, etc. As an RVT I am the one being the eyes, ears and sometimes nose for the Veterinarian. Also, you MUST be an excellent note taker! Medical records are essential to make sure that you have all the information needed for the Veterinarian to determine a course of treatment which may change if the clinical symptoms change.
While talking with the students, I expressed to them about the importance of recognizing mental health concerns for both DVMs and RVTs and finding a work life balance. Easier said the done right! I am not the first to say we work in a profession that demands highly of us and our knowledge of veterinary medicine which is forever changing. Veterinary professionals can be dealt a different hand every second of every day depending on the situations. The veterinary team that you create in practice and the personal team you create at home must be able to assist you in specific ways both personally and professionally. Finding the perfect work life balance is never going to be easy but the most important thing that you can do for yourself is understand and recognize that if something is not working then it may be time to make a change. Change can be the scariest thing for some people and for others it does not affect them or comes naturally.
What I have learned from the changes I have made in my life in the past few years is that in the beginning it can feel like you have made the worst mistake and you have panic moments thinking that maybe it wasn’t so bad before and I can take it back. Then you wake up one day or you are at work and have this moment of relief that you did the right thing, you feel like yourself again, you are happy to be going to work, you are happy to be going home to see your partner, your friends are noticing the change and soon you begin to notice the change in yourself. The negative energy and feelings that you had weekly or daily seem to have disappeared and you want to enjoy life again both personally and professionally.
It’s okay to not be okay. There is nothing wrong with you and the people closest to you will help you get through your struggles. Your veterinary team, your family, friends and even our furry friends are key players to help you succeed in life. Life in practice can be exciting, challenging, demanding, upsetting and I mean that is just a regular Monday… We can acknowledge that times have changed and move forward, or we can stay where we are destroying ourselves and the profession from within. Change is inevitable, progress is optional, inspire and lead change for progress!
Written and Submitted by Juanita Rose (Kohlman) Ivanochko, RVT
I didn’t think it would happen to me. Watching commercials on T.V. and thinking to myself “Why would you do that?”. I have stage 4 liver disease caused by consuming alcohol. Did I turn yellow… yes. Did my eyes turn yellow… yes.
This is my story as a Registered Veterinary Technologist of nearly 23 years.
I graduated from SIAST College in Saskatoon in 1998. It feels like it was yesterday. I was the Distinguished Graduate of my class, and all I wanted to do was enter my career as an RVT. My mentor, Dr. Richard Krauss, hired me to be a part of his team at the Preeceville Veterinary Clinic. We did everything together with much respect, trust and amazing communication. I always knew what he needed and was prepared and ready. I enjoyed the clients, patients and had very good people skills to add to the dynamics of the clinic. I still do. I worked for 9 years at the clinic. We worked hard, late hours, and we were very, very busy. Dr. Krauss and I trusted each other to do what was in the best interest for the patient and client. Dr. Krauss’ wife Ivy always treated me as her daughter, and I am so grateful for that.
I met my husband and we were married in three months! Yes, three months. Land had been purchased from his parents, and we developed our own homestead. We worked hard, clearing bush, sanding and staining a log home. We are very blessed today due to our inspirations of having a family and ranch. Things took a turn for the worse for me when we lost our firstborn child. I was devastated. I think it triggered my alcoholism. I don’t think it… I know it. My husband and I went on to have three stunning daughters.
I was always wanting to go back to work… to be the “Old Juanita.” I lived and breathed the clinic. Being what I was gifted and granted, worked so hard for; an RVT. I did, but my life was too busy. My husband worked away in the Western Provinces. I was alone with our children, house, cows and I developed anxiety, which I probably always had. Alcohol helped ease the pain after work and sometimes later into the evening. Hence, my sleep issues started. Going from room to room with “Come sleep with me.” The stress from my husband being away (7 weeks, 10 weeks), ranch, and wanting to be the best mother for our children and an RVT for my dedicated employer and the surrounding communities we serviced. I was getting up in the middle of the night to shovel snow, haul wood, prepare school backpacks, and to ponder when to feed the cows next and lifting bale feeders by hand so cows would clean bales up. It finally took its toll on me. I became sick with throat problems, cough etc. It was the year of our clinic inspection. In a very short time of a few years I had damaged my sensitive body. Alcohol brings on denial, self pity, shame and it hurts the people you love. It has no boundaries, discrimination, and age. It takes you away, leaving you powerless.
I am very grateful to be a survivor of this horrific disease and will continue to deal with its effects for the rest of my days.
I owe my life to my husband, Dr. Richard Krauss, and my dearest friends and family. Dr. Krauss found me weak, lethargic and very ill after being in the hospital. I should have never been left alone. I couldn’t even make it up the steps to our entrance door. I crawled. My husband drove home to be with me, and I’ll never forget it. The tears he shed. Since then I have had my health battles, all due to what I did to my body, severe anemia, blood transfusions, rectal bleeding, severe weight loss and the list goes on and on.
This is a hard story to write. I am admitting my shortcomings to my peers. I have admitted my shortcomings to friends and family and that is still a work in progress. I hope by sharing, that I might be able to help someone by reading this. We are not perfect, and life draws us in different directions. I know I’m not the first person in this profession to struggle, hence my desire to reach out to my SAVT and SVMA associations to bring positive awareness with alcoholism and other issues in our province and beyond.
On a positive side, I have my husband, children, thriving “Three Roses Ranch”, my mentor and his wife Ivy, co-workers, dearest kindred spirited friends, close relatives, and a community that I am so proud to belong to. They all have stood by me with no judgment, only comments of bravery and much love for coming out of the darkness into the light. I’m very lucky to have all the support I needed, and to live and laugh again. My body doesn’t let me do the things I used to do, but that’s alright, I’m alive. I can still perform microscopic submissions and be of value at the front end. I will always be an RVT, I’m proud of it.
I would sincerely thank Dr. Richard Krauss and his wife Ivy for allowing me to use their names and practice in sharing my story. Your support over two decades have made an impact on my recovery, for that I am grateful.
IMThriving is starting something new! On their website they are creating a page called VETsy (kind of like etsy.. but for our community!). It’s a place where the side hustles of veterinary professionals can be displayed. This service is a FREE SERVICE for anyone interested in participating.
To get involved you will need to forward a word document to email@example.com. That word document needs to contain the following:
1) your name and the name of your business (as you want it displayed) 2) an image for the main page that highlights your business or products 3) a paragraph or two about your business and products 4) additional photos and descriptions of your products you would like showcased on the page 5) contact information and social media handles, i.e. information about how products can be purchased
Submitted by Erin Hendrickson, RVT & Technical Service Representative for Royal Canin Veterinary Division Canada
If any of you wonderful techs out there watch as much TedTalks as I do, you’re probably very familiar with Simon Sinek. One of his educational videos changed my perspective and made me want to start telling the world why I do what I do. His video is called “Start with Why” and I encourage you to watch it.
What he teaches in this lecture is that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. In this case, I don’t mean “buy” as in monetary purchasing, I mean people don’t TRUST you unless they know WHY you do what you do. So here is my why.
It all started in 2000 when I got my very first pet. I was never allowed a pet growing up. Nobody in my family likes animals so they couldn’t believe that I LOVE all animals. So as soon as I was living on my own I got a cat. Schmookie was the love of my life. My best friend on Earth and I wanted to learn how to make him live as long as felinely possible. In 2000, I was working at the front desk of the Radisson Hotel in Saskatoon and didn’t know anything about animals. When he was neutered, the woman who handed him back to me was wearing a lab coat and had a stethoscope around her neck. I said, “Thank you, doctor”. And she scoffed and said, “I’m not a doctor! I’m a vet tech!” I had no idea what that was so she explained to me that she was an animal nurse. Well, oh my word, I was gobsmacked. What an amazing profession! Everyone should be a vet tech! But I wasn’t ready yet to go to school so I logged it in my memory bank for the future.
Meanwhile, Schmookie is growing up. I had no idea what to feed him or how much. I admit, I fed him something that I bought at Wal-Mart and every time I filled his dish I felt like the food that I was giving him looked like plastic, looked fake, full of food coloring, and was probably not very good for him. One day, I went to my veterinarian and told her my concerns. She gave me about four different cans of food to go home and try. He hated all of them. So I went to PetLand in Confed and bought a plethora of canned food to try of all kinds and brands. He hated those too. Back to the vet, and this time it was a different vet who said “Every time I have a cat that won’t eat, I give it Royal Canin Sensitivity CR” (Which doesn’t even exist anymore that’s how long ago this was). So I took some home and he devoured it.
Schmookie was on Sensitivity for quite a long time and then I discovered the Dental diet (which was a lot more cost effective than feeding only canned food!) which he also LOVED so he stayed on that for years. He became this regal, silky, beautiful creature when before, he was a scraggly greasy looking thing. I thought, “What is IN this food?!?!”
I started researching Royal Canin and found that there was a rep in Saskatchewan so I gave her a call to ask her. Her job sounded so amazing, getting to educate the veterinary community about proper pet nutrition? How do I sign up?! She told me that I should go to school and become a vet tech. !!!!! That file in the back of my memory opened and I remembered that woman with the lab coat and stethoscope and immediately went to SIAST to enroll!
After I graduated from what is now the Sask Polytechnic Veterinary Technology program, I was 28 years old and ready to represent this amazing company so I called that rep again and told her basically, “Ok, I’m a tech now, now what?” Her instructions were to get some experience, work as a tech for at least ten years and then apply. TEN YEARS?? I’d be 38?! That’s ancient! So I decided to cut it in half by working at the WCVM in ICU and Emerg for five years and then reassess.
Exactly five years later, I found out that the rep had been promoted and was moving to Guelph, Ontario to work at the Royal Canin head office. I immediately applied. BUT WAIT? My best friend at the time also applied. I was so hurt, I didn’t talk to her for weeks. The day of the interviews was upon me and right when I was leaving my apartment, she pulled in to my parking lot. She had her interview before me so she must have just got out of it and came straight to my place. Looking like a million dollars, she got out of her car and walked over to me. I was so mad at her for a) looking better than I did, and B) for taking the interview, that it took me a minute to notice that she was crying! Of course I asked her why she was crying and she said, and I kid you not this actually happened:
“I need to tell you what I did in that interview before you go. When I got there, I shook the interviewers’ hands and told them that I’m not here to be interviewed. I only applied because I wanted to have an opportunity to talk to you about why my best friend should have this job.”
She sat in that interview for a half an hour telling them all about ME and why I should be hired to represent Royal Canin.
Now that’s a best friend.
And that, my fellow animal lovers, is why I do what I do. I LOVE animals. I have learned how medicine and nutrition when married together in synergy can make our pets live longer, happier, and healthier. Which is why I chose to represent Royal Canin specifically as the core of our belief structure at Royal Canin is to make the world a better place for pets.
In May, I will have been your rep for 9 years and every day I wake up grateful to be able to work with you all and do what I do!