Piggy Tales

Submitted by Jennifer Epp, RVT & SAVT Past President

Pictured is Jennifer Epp, RVT and her children.

As a child, growing up on a dairy farm, my dream was not unlike many other little girls, I was going to be a Veterinarian!  I remember following my dad and the herd health Veterinarian around, watching, learning, and helping with whatever I could, and if I was lucky enough to go with, to watch one of our cows get an LDA (Left Displaced Abomasum) Surgery.  Upon graduation from High School, that was the plan!  I did not enter University, and chose to take a year, which turned into two, before returning to school.

During my second year, post high school, my Mom told me about the Animal Health Technology Program.  This was in the late fall of 1991, and I truthfully had NO IDEA what she was talking about!  I had never heard of this program before, nor did I know of anyone who had ever gone through it!  As I’m sure many of you will agree, as a young adult, we NEVER think our Mother’s could be right about something!!  So to appease her, I contacted SIAST, and sure enough the course existed!

Next step – application!  Back then, you mailed everything and had to wait, and wait, and wait for a response!  I was so excited about my potential career, and when the long awaited letter arrived, I was placed on a Waiting List!  Talk about disappointment!  I still continued on, earning my volunteer hours at the vet clinic, and dreaming, and waiting anxiously for a spot to open up!  In July, I started calling weekly, to see if by chance I had gotten in, finally (maybe they got tired of me calling), in the middle of August I received word I was accepted!

The fall of 1992, I started the course – and really was unprepared for all of the work ahead!  I studied hard – and in 1994, I was chosen to be the Distinguished Graduate of the Animal Health Technology Program, and I received the SAHTA Bursary.  This led to my first term on the SAHTA Board of Directors, where I served for 5 years!

After graduation, like most of us do, I started work in a Veterinary Clinic with grand illusions that I would be utilized as the newly graduated Animal Health Technologist that I was.  That I would do blood work, assist in surgery’s, etc, etc, etc.  You have to remember, that back in 1994, the Veterinary profession was very male dominated – and sadly I was often seen as more of an assistant, rather than an AHT.  It was not uncommon for two of the Veterinarians to be doing regular surgeries together, and I was left doing laundry, cleaning kennels, etc.  So after only 4 months of working as an AHT, I decided I was going to go back to University, become a Veterinarian, and then I would graduate, have my own clinic, and treat my future AHT employees with the respect they so deserved!

Well fate so to say, had different plans!  Shortly after I made my decision to return to school, I met a young cattle farmer at the vet clinic, who I started to date.  I did return to University, however after only a month I left!  Sometimes I think that if I had not met him, I might have stuck it out longer, however, every person I turned to for advice  – advisors in the Department of Agriculture, and at the Vet College – all kept saying the same thing “You won’t get in, you will never make it.”  And my emotional and mental health all believed them, so I dropped out of university, and less than a year later I married that cattle farmer.

Through our early years – I did work at a vet clinic – and then was fired “for speaking my opinion on a course of treatment.”  After this I worked various jobs – not related to my field of education, before ending up at Western Canadian Beef, where I started out as a Meat Inspector, and then moved on to work in the lab doing Quality Control.  Both of these utilized many of the skills I had learned – and the lab work especially was very fulfilling, and then one day I found out I was pregnant, and after my maternity leave, I did not return to work for several years.

Together with my husband, we welcomed 3 beautiful children – and I was blessed to be able to stay at home, helping with the purebred Charolais cattle we raised.  It may not have been glorious, but being able to work outside – teaching my children how animals should be raised, treated and cared for, is nothing I regret!  Many of you will remember the fateful events of 2003 when BSE hit!  Suddenly our livelihood was worth nothing!  And in the spring of 2004, it became evident I would need to return to work to help subsidize the farm, but more importantly to feed and clothe our children.

I sent off my resume to Big Sky Farms, which was a hog barn 50 km away from our farm.  Within a week, I had an interview, and was hired part time, to work in the farrowing department in a 6,000 sow barn. This was a commercial herd – so all animals were basically destined to be bacon!  After about 4 months, I transferred to the nursery barns – which was 4 barns on one site, housing roughly 24,000 weanlings.  Again I was only part time, as my baby was only 1 1/2 years old, and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my children.  After about a year – I started working full time at the nursery barn, and within a few months was promoted to the Nursery Manager.  Never in my wildest dreams growing up, did I imagine that I would be working with pigs, let alone managing a barn!  After 2 years of managing the Nursery Unit, an opportunity came up to manage the Sow herd – so I jumped at it!  I now had a responsibility of managing a herd of 6,000 sows, and leading a staff of 22 people!  I will never forget the words of my first production manager, he said “If all you had to do was look after the pigs, your job would be easy, it is the people that give you the problems.”  And right he was!  The pigs, most of their issues can be fixed with proper ventilation, feed, water and the occasional veterinary care, things are pretty simple!  The staff on the other hand, that is a whole other story!

Here is a little known fact for you, when I was in 4-H, I was on the provincial judging team that went to Agribition, and it was for judging pigs!  I used to be teased about this amongst the dairy kids, but I used to say that underneath all of the extra skin of that pig, is the same frame that we want in our dairy cows!  To this day, I still look at my sows and think of them like my dairy cows – if they don’t have a good set of feet and legs, properly positioned underneath, how can I expect her to perform!

I digress, I managed the farrowing barn down south until July of 2012,  At the time, my husband had left over 1 1/2 years earlier, and I was still living on the farm with my in-laws up until this point.  It was a very tricky situation – and mid July of 2012, my employment with Big Sky ended.  Shortly after we had the auction where we sold all of the farm equipment, and the cattle had all been sold the previous year.  This now allowed me to look for employment elsewhere, and start a new life for my children and I.

I sent in an application to Fast Genetics.  I knew they were a purebred pig company, but was not really sure where they were!  The day after my interview, I was offered the job – but before making this life changing decision, the kids and I drove up to Spiritwood, to check out the town, and see if it was some place we might like to live!  That first trip, we even managed to squeeze in looking at a few houses – and all felt that yes, this was a beautiful place that we might like to try out.  Long story short, within a time frame of 6 weeks from leaving my previous job, we packed up what had been my life for 17 years, a house was bought, and we moved 500 km away!

For the past 8 years, I have managed a “daughter” nucleus unit.  We breed, farrow, and sell purebred gilts to customers across North America.  The barn I manage now, is only 1,200 sows – however, the degree of detail that is needed daily is sometimes unbelievable!  At birth, every piglet is weighed, teats are counted (yes even the males), they are tagged with a distinct numerical ID, that is entered into a database where everything can be tracked.  Prior to this, every sow is selected to be bred to a specific boar, so that her offspring can reach the best genetic potential possible.  In July of 2015, the majority of the shares were purchased by a company out of Texas called Sexing Technologies.  They are well known in the cattle world for producing sex sorted semen – so that you can choose the offspring you prefer.  This however, has never been done in the pig world at all!  We are on the cutting edge of technology, and it is truly exciting to see how the company has grown, and achieved mini milestones along the way.

I guess what I am trying to say is don’t overlook any potential career opportunities.  As that little girl growing up, I thought I knew what I would do!  Never, did I imagine, that I would work with pigs, let alone manage a barn!  I will leave you all with a quote – it is a wall hanging that I purchased the day after the farm auction, I was at a very low point!  Every day after, I would look at it and “Believe!”

Believe.  Life is too short to wake up with regrets, so love the people who treat you right and forget the ones that don’t.  If you get a chance, TAKE IT!  If it changes your life, let it!  Believe Everything Happens for a Reason!

This hangs in Jennifer’s home!

Kudos Goes To..

The SAVT is excited to launch our Kudos Program! This program allows anyone (RVT, DVM, Manager, vet team member, or the public) to submit a kudos to be shared with them and the veterinary community. These kudos can be thank yous or celebrations for something that has been done or accomplished by that individual. These thank yous and celebrations do not have to be veterinary related if there is something that they’ve contributed to in the clinic or the community that you think should be recognized. The Kudos Program is an opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of veterinary professionals in Saskatchewan. There is no maximum to the number of kudos that you can submit however they may not be released and shared all at once.

Below are the kudos from the last month!

Kudos goes to Wendy Mock, RVT and Chantel Steele, RVT from Dr. Michelle Lange at the Martensville Veterinary Hospital. “While facing an unprecedented increase in case load over the past 4 months, working long hours and the challenges of COVID, both Wendy and Chantel’s exceptional technical skills, knowledge, teamwork, and professionalism were not only evident to myself and clients, it was the key to our success. Thanks to their efforts and commitment, we were able to provide quality veterinary care to our clients and community during these challenging times.”

Kudos goes to Tara Holland, RVT from Nadine Schueller, RVT!”Tara and I worked together beginning in 2017 when I became her new manager and he was lead RVT. Her work ethic, her team centred attitude and her amazing RVT and leadership abilities shone thorough immediately. I believe that Tara deserves a Kudos as she not only took on additional responsibility for her practice through the renovations, but worked as ‘acting manager” on top of her RVT role as I moved on and VCA changed structure. It is never an easy task moving from co-worker to manager/leader and she has continued to learn and grow. I am proud to call her a friend, and I am proud to say she has been recently promoted to full general Manager of VCA Frontier Animal Hosptial and I have no doubt that she will continue to shine as it grows into an emergency hospital. It warms my heart to see RVT’s in leadership positions showing the world what we are capable of!”

Kudos goes to all RVTs at the Veterinary Medical Centre from Nadine Schueller, RVT! “As COVID changed our world and our veterinary world, many clinics, staff and doctors had to adapt. In our unique situation, Veterinary Medical Centre went from full program teaching with a hospital full of students to emergencies only with only the staff to cover. The University Campus was closed, our hospital was mandated to reduce staffing levels and yet we had to ensure animals were cared for as the critical care/emergency hospital for the majority of Saskatchewan and neighbouring provinces. The clinicians were dealing with changing their rotations to remote/online learning plus working within the clinic so anxiety and tension were high on top of the anxiety of COVID. Within this situation, our staff had their schedules completely changed, they changed to working 24/7 including overnight and weekend shifts, were broken into small teams and took on learning emergency medicine and becoming familiar with different jobs throughout the hospital to ensure we could meet this emergency demand. With surrounding clinics reducing their appointments and caseload as well, our emergency department also had increased demand during this time. I want to give a shout out and give kudos to say how incredibly proud I am of them all! I am proud of the lead hands who were charged with communication in an ever-changing environment and were often on the front line of change, I am proud of the RVTs who stepped into leadership roles and helped co-workers learn, teach old and new clinicians and another service area RVTs emergency medical procedures and care. I am proud of the RVTs within our hospital that went outside their comfort zones and took on the chaos of not only learning emergency medicine but emergency medicine within COVID, with new procedures, policies, schedules and curbside service and the chaos of all this change in a short amount of time! I am proud of the RVT staff that learned a new area and the outstanding care that the patients received! Our Veterinary Medical Centre RVTs showed how quickly they can learn; they showed resilience, adaptability, compassion and teamwork and I could not be more proud of the RVTs we have here at the Veterinary Medical Centre! I am proud of all the staff, but since this is an RVT forum, I have focused on them specifically!”

Kudos goes to Tara Holland, RVT; Jesse LeCuyer, RVT; Kristian Werezak, RVT; Stephanie Wiebe, RVT; & Kiera Lenard from Ashley Martin.”I would like to send a kudos to all of the Vet Techs at VCA Canada Frontier Animal Hospital – Tara Holland, RVT, Jesse LeCuyer, RVT, Kristian Werezak, RVT, Stephanie Wiebe, RVT and Kiera Lenard. Thank you all for being great mentors and helping me and a couple of my classmates complete our SaskPolytech Vet Tech program. These past few months have been challenging and stressful for everyone and you all stepped up and helped us through. You showed so much patience, taught me so much, and made everyday a lot of fun. You are all great at what you do and I appreciate you all very much!”

Management as an RVT. A Road Often Less Travelled.

Submitted by Janine Kernaleguen, RVT VPM

As RVTs, some of us have experienced management as the next step when the technical work no longer excites us, our experience and skills lean us into a more comprehensive role in the practice or life changes our path slightly. Sometimes management is dreaded or even feared and sometimes it is met with welcoming open arms. Not everyone’s career path is the same nor is it at the same speed.

Why would you want to do this as an RVT? Longevity. Responsibility. Raises. Job satisfaction.

Not every day is sunshine and rainbows in a management role, but it has its perks. Job flexibility for one. Many management tasks can happen outside of office hours. Need to take a morning for your kids? You got it. You can always make it up with an evening shift or even working from home. The hardest days in management have more than enough good days to make up for it.

From a practice’s standpoint, offering a position or promotion with management aspects is a way that they can offer their RVTs more compensation. By allowing those key team members to take on more responsibility, they can be more valuable to the team and therefore the practice. There are varying levels of responsibility that an RVT can take on. Using the RVT’s strengths is key to making it work for both employee and employer. Great at organizing? Excellent Trainer? Strong technical skills? Strong communicator? Love social media? Each one of these things has a different skill set and maybe a different aspect of management that could be of use to the practice. Organizational skills may lead you into a role with inventory. Social media skills for clinic marketing. Strong technical skills may allow you to be the technical protocol writer for the practice. Whereas someone who struggles with communicating with clients should not oversee training new employees in that area or speaking with vendors. They will not experience the same self worth as someone who excels at doing it.

As an RVT I always wanted to take on responsibility and be able to help shape the practice to make it a better place for the team and the clients/patients. One of the best ways to do this is to take on managerial tasks. As an employee you can bring forward ideas to improve, but sometimes you lack the knowhow and planning or ability to get those ideas to fruition. Taking on responsibility within the workplace means that your ideas may have more support backing them because you have proven yourself already as trustworthy.

No management position can or should be taken on without at least some additional training. The fastest way to burn out is to take on jobs that there is no support or training for. Now, not every job is written out perfectly for you. Some positions may not even exist yet! But you should know how to problem solve, know your limitations, who to go to for support and who can confirm your plans as worth expanding on. Not finding/knowing enough information and not communicating enough are the two biggest hurdles that cause management placements to fail. Always ask questions if you are in doubt. Always ask for someone to check over your plans and ideas before putting them into action. Having a review of your work is the best way to build up self confidence and know that you are headed in the right direction as well as meeting the expectations that are set out for you.

Management may be a scary word in our industry, but it should not be. Maybe you are already taking on management tasks right now and did not even know it!

Pictured above is Janine Kernaleguen, RVT VPM

Kudos Goes To..

The SAVT is excited to launch our Kudos Program! This program allows anyone (RVT, DVM, Manager, vet team member, or the public) to submit a kudos to be shared with them and the veterinary community. These kudos can be thank yous or celebrations for something that has been done or accomplished by that individual. These thank yous and celebrations do not have to be veterinary related if there is something that they’ve contributed to in the clinic or the community that you think should be recognized. The Kudos Program is an opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of veterinary professionals in Saskatchewan. There is no maximum to the number of kudos that you can submit however they may not be released and shared all at once.

Below are the kudos from the last month!

From Breanna Olafson, RVT, to Megan Magee, RVT, both at the Animal Health Centre of Melville. Megan Magee, RVT is a rock star mixed animal technician. She can juggle a million things and handles it with ease on a daily basis. She loves working with all animals, but cattle have a special place in her heart. Her passion as a technician radiates and I am so thankful for her mentorship as a new tech many years ago. She just celebrated her 10 year milestone, so here is a huge congratulations to her on an amazing 10 year technician career!!

From Grace Neel, RVT, to Kendall Prayda, RVT, both from 24HR Animal Care Centre in Regina. She is a very hard working RVT, who is always on top of everything going on in our clinic while still taking time to teach and/or support others. During the pandemic our 24 hr clinic has remained open and taken on many new clients. Kendall has been amazing with adjusting to changing protocols and continuing to work tirelessly through all the stress. She is a coworker I look up to & deserves kudos for sure!!

From Marlee Wiebe, RVT, to Sarah Mooney, RVT, both at Acadia Veterinary Clinic. “Sarah is both a fantastic tech and amazing friend! We always have so much fun working together and she has truly become one of my closest friends. She makes the crazy busy days and all the stress that comes with the job of being an RVT feel more manageable. Thanks for being an amazing person to work with.”

From Taunia Arthur, RVT RMLAT, to Michele Moroz, RVT RMLAT, both at the University of Saskatchewan. “I wanted to send a kudos out to Michele Moroz for helping 4 individuals (3 at the University of Saskatchewan and one from Ontario) achieve their Registered Master Laboratory Animal Technician Certification(RMLAT)! She started studying with us on a monthly basis starting in April 2019 and then in October 2019 we started a 2x/week study session until February of 2020. She took time out of her day to help us to study for this long and difficult exam process. She is always willing to answer questions and provide her knowledge and expertise to help out!”

VTS Project – Emily Robinson, RVT VTS (Nutrition)

The SAVT’s VTS/Mentorship Committee focuses on mentorship, VTNE assistance, and raising awareness of RVT specialties. They are hosting monthly programming that feature different RVTs who have a Veterinary Technician Specialty.

Emily Robinson, RVT VTS (Nutrition) took over the SAVT’s Instagram and shared what a day in her life looked like and answered questions from members. If you weren’t able to follow along don’t worry – we’ve put together her Instagram story below for you to look through!

VTS Project with Danielle Mierau, RVT VTS (ECC)

The SAVT’s VTS/Mentorship Committee focuses on mentorship, VTNE assistance, and raising awareness of RVT specialties. They are hosting monthly programming that feature different RVTs who have a VTS.

The first session was a Facebook event with Danielle Mierau, RVT VTS (ECC). Danielle shared her story and answered questions on our Facebook page over three days. In case you missed it we have put together the information below. Also included below is Danielle’s biography!

Danielle’s bio:

“I discovered my love for animals, like most of us, in my childhood. I was fortunate enough to grow up in small town Saskatchewan. In the tenth grade we had a work expo at school and that is when I heard about this amazing career, Veterinary Technology. I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be a veterinarian; and now I am glad that was my inkling. I did not want to spend my career talking to clients, explaining bills, and looking things up in books. I knew I wanted to actually work “hands on” with the animals. I continued to follow that path and graduated from Kelsey campus SIAST in 1998.After graduation I spent 4 years working at Central Animal Hospital. I became bored in that job, so I moved to Calgary and started to work at Calgary North Animal Hospital. I started in a vacation relief position and was able to work a variety of shifts in different departments. During my stint there I discovered my love for emergency and critical care medicine. There is no “boring” in emergency medicine; every day is different and you never know what may walk in the door. At that point I found out RVTs could specialize in different areas. So I knew what my next goal was.The application process to sit a certifying exam can be quite a daunting process. It involves different requirements, depending on the specialty, but all of them need continuing education, advanced skills, case reports, case logs, letters of recommendation, etc. Between having my application accepted in early 2006 and passing the exam in September of that year, I started working at Calgary Animal Referral and Emergency Centre when it opened. For the next 4 years I worked at the CARE Centre until I started to be homesick for Saskatoon. I moved back home in 2010 and for the past 10 years I have been working as the ICU Team Lead in the Veterinary Medical Centre at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon. Working in the VMC I get to teach veterinary technology students as well as veterinary medicine students. I discovered that I enjoy passing on my knowledge and skills to others. It’s exciting to see someone accomplish a new skill knowing that you had a part in teaching them. I consider myself lucky to have a job that I love. I believe you spend way too much time at work to have a job that you don’t enjoy. When you become miserable in your job you become miserable in your life. Life is too short to be miserable. There are so many options available to us as RVTs; find what you love within our field and do it well.”

Danielle Mierau, RVT VTS (ECC)

The 7 Year Path to Becoming a Registered Veterinary Technologist – Why I Regret Nothing

Submitted by Mabel Ng, BSA, RVT

Being a recent graduate of the Veterinary Technology program, I thought going into the work force would be a daunting task – everyday a catchup game. And in a way it was, but it didn’t end up being as stressful as I originally thought. I was not as unequipped coming out of school as I had imagined and began to enjoy the numerous learning opportunities that came my way, taking advantage of every experience to better and further myself as an individual and as a veterinary professional.

My journey to become an RVT was not as straight-forward as the majority of my peers. Rather than entering the Veterinary Technology program directly from high school, my post-secondary adventure started at the University of Saskatchewan – a courageous decision made by a young and naïve 18-year-old version of me. At the time, all my efforts were spent trying to become a veterinarian through the Western College of Veterinary Medicine – my childhood dream. I spent four years studying my hardest to deserve a place at the WCVM, but alas I was unsuccessful with each application. Bachelor’s degree in hand, I was afraid for what my future would hold without being able to live my dream. I was disappointed, discouraged, and resentful of myself; I had spent the last 20+ years building up to this moment, and I had failed miserably. That is when I considered becoming a “vet tech” instead, and my next decisions changed my (young) life for the better in so many ways.

I ended up being late sending in my application to Saskatchewan Polytechnic and thus was placed on the waiting list. Still beaten from being unable to make my dream a reality, I decided to apply to a grooming salon where I stayed for approximately a year. Despite the low wages, the experiences that I gained from working in a dog grooming salon further solidified my love and appreciation for animals. My dog handling and restraint abilities improved tenfold and I became more comfortable interacting with clients too – advantages that I didn’t know I had until I entered the clinic setting as an RVT.

The 2-year Veterinary Technology program was very challenging – even more so than the 4 years I had spent obtaining my bachelor’s degree. I was fortunate that I already knew how I liked to study, but the sheer amount of information required as a functional veterinary technologist is immense. At 25 years old, I finally learned the true value of a veterinary technologist, both in and out of the clinic setting. By the end of the program, I was shocked by how little I knew about the profession when I first started. I finally understood why RVTs often outnumbered the DVMs in the workforce and why often times the face you see most of in a clinic setting is that of a veterinary technologist. While I was still learning to embrace my new career path, I no longer felt ashamed of failing to become a veterinarian; on the contrary, I felt empowered with all of my new skills and my knowledge and was excited to implement them in practise.

Present day, working at the Moose Jaw Animal Clinic, I’ve realized my true potential as an RVT. I feel valued and essential to the operations of a veterinary clinic. When I first began working, I was insecure with how old I was as a new RVT, but I soon realized that my experiences and previous education made me level-headed and “wise” despite being a graduate of 2019. I found myself brave enough to involve myself in the complicated cases, and brave enough to fully experience the triumph and the heartache that often accompanied these cases. I no longer see the RVT status as a job, but rather a way of life – a three-letter credential that represents advocacy for animal welfare and love for veterinary medicine. Having spent the past 7 years reaching this moment in my life has been my greatest blessing and triumph, and I didn’t even know it until now. #rvtproud

Kudos Goes To..

The SAVT is excited to launch our Kudos Program! This program allows anyone (RVT, DVM, Manager, vet team member, or the public) to submit a kudos to be shared with them and the veterinary community. These kudos can be thank yous or celebrations for something that has been done or accomplished by that individual. These thank yous and celebrations do not have to be veterinary related if there is something that they’ve contributed to in the clinic or the community that you think should be recognized. The Kudos Program is an opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of veterinary professionals in Saskatchewan. There is no maximum to the number of kudos that you can submit however they may not be released and shared all at once.

Below are the kudos from the last month!

From Janine Kernaleguen, RVT VPM at Gateway Veterinary Services to Kendra Sorokoski, RVT is our tech in charge of Medicine at the office. These last couple of months have been a wild whirlwind of craziness with our busiest month EVER for appointments (April 2020) while doing every appointment curbside and over the telephone. She is a rock star for keeping her cool and handling the massive influx of appointments, patient follow ups and lab tests. She is our Clinic Team baker and still brings goodies to the office, using baking as an outlet for stress relief. We would be lost without her.

Kudos goes to Kate Dean, RVT from Martensville Veterinary Hospital from Chantelle Steele, RVT!”When our clinic owner was diagnosed with cancer, Kate was abruptly shoved into a role of full time RVT AND clinic manager. This change came only weeks before COVID 19 changed everything. She’s been working non stop to keep us and our clients safe, all the while trying keep us all from losing our minds while not losing her own.”

Kudos goes to Taylor Sunderland, RVT from Janine Kernaleguen, RVT VPM at Gateway Veterinary Services. “Taylor is our tech in charge of Surgery at the office. She also assists in Medicine appointments in the afternoon once all of her patients are looked after and ready for pick up. Taylor is level headed and always predicable, organized and easily moves from one task to another. Our clinic relies heavily on our tech team to keep patients and clients happy and cared for. She is very thorough in everything she does and handles every situation with ease. We have asked more work from Taylor than ever during these crazy times and Taylor has never failed to step up and help the team out whenever possible.”

Kudos goes to Megan Ross, RVT and Partner In Crime from Janine Kernaleguen, RVT VPM. “Megan has been my right hand for the last few years and has been a person that we rely on heavily within our Team. Megan has taken additional training to step into the position of Medical Director with in our practice. She is the most giving and loyal person. Megan is always willing to go the extra mile to help our her Team. She is excellent with patients, clients and co-workers. Her passion for her occupation and industry is evident. We have developed a close bond weathering the storm of management together. I am so thankful to have her as a friend and a co-worker.”

Student Spotlights

Congratulations to the veterinary technology graduates from Saskatchewan!

Alexandria Kenney grew up on a farm between Dalmeny and Saskatoon and had and still has cows, horses, chickens, dogs, and cats. As a kid she always wanted to work with animals and always loved medicine so becoming an RVT was a perfect fit! Lexi’s favourite part about being an (R)VT is the importance of the RVT voice in the care of animals and she looks forward to using that voice in a large animal practice, mixed animal practice, or in research after graduation. Lexi enjoys horseback riding, archery, and crocheting and looks forward to a future of new experiences and to witness the opportunities that a career as an RVT has to offer. Congratulations Lexi!

Alexandria Kenney

Ashley Martin is from Delisle, SK, and has always had a passion for animals with a soft spot for her dog Brady.  After working as a legal assistant for several years Ashley decided that she needed to do something more rewarding and becoming an RVT seemed like the perfect fit.  After graduation Ashley looks forward to working in a small animal clinic and continuing her hobbies and passion of travelling, gardening, and spending time at the family cabin.  Ashley’s favourite part about being an RVT so far is the continuous learning and being able to use so many different skills every day.  As a volunteer for the SAVT Board of Directors as a student liaison she understands the importance of being a voice for others and being a voice for animals and bettering their lives while also being there for their owners is what she is the most excited about in her future in veterinary medicine.

Ashley Martin

Kailyn Forgrave is from Warman, SK and has two dogs.  Kailyn decided to become a vet tech because animals have this way of showing their unconditional love to people and she wanted to be able to show her love back to them by helping them.  Kailyn has always loved animals and wanted to be a part of veterinary medicine.  She is looking forward to working in a rural clinic in Saskatchewan after graduation where she can cuddle all the calves (which is her favourite part of being a vet tech).  When she isn’t studying and cuddling calves she enjoys crocheting, sketching, dog walking, pet sitting, and visiting the SPCA for even more animal cuddles.  Her future in veterinary medicine could potentially involved starting a doggie “spa daycare”.  Kailyn wants anyone interested in becoming a vet tech to keep their chin up and although the two year program is crazy it’s completely worth it!

Kailyn Forgrave

Alexia King is from Delisle, SK, and owns two English bulldogs (Ryder and Riggs).  Alexia decided to become an RVT for many reasons!  She love animals and wants to be able to give an owner the same feeling that her mentors did when they treated her pets and being able to help educate a client from brand new puppy all the way to helping the pet cross the rainbow bridge.  Alexia currently works at Delisle Veterinary Service and looks forward to continuing with that after graduation and eventually wants to pursue a specialty in Emergency and Critical Care or Behaviour.  Alexia’s favourite part about being an (R)VT so far is being able to advocate for the animal who doesn’t have a voice and learning something new all the time.  When she isn’t being a student and advocate for animals she enjoys writing, listening to music, and being with her family outside of the work life. 

Alexia King

Bailey Kzyzyk is from Saskatoon. She lives camping, gardening, hiking, travelling, and basically anything outdoors. She has a turtle named Sheldon who is now Shelly because she thought it was a boy until it started to lay eggs! Bailey also has a rescue pit bull cross named Koda. Bailey chose to become an RVT because she always had an interest for animals and nature and their intertwined relationship and wanted to be a part of a career that put animals’ needs above all else. After graduating Bailey plans on keeping her options open and looking into opportunities with wildlife, conservation, small animals, and rehabilitation. Bailey finds it very exciting to know that being an RVT means that she will always have numerous job opportunities to pursue and each of them will create a new and unique learning experience for her. The thing that Bailey loves most about being an RVT is being an advocate for the animals she has in her care and ensuring that they have everything they need to live a happy and healthy life.

Bailey Kzyzyk

Morgan Ashdown is from Pilot Butte, SK, and currently has two horses and a cat.  Morgan decided to become an RVT because she enjoys veterinary medicine and helping animals live their best life.  She loves seeing patient progress and continual opportunities to learn and develop.  After graduation Morgan plans on working in a mixed practice, focusing her continuing education on large animal and rehabilitation.  Rehab is something that she is excited about investing in in the future and potentially seeking a specialty in the future.  Her favourite part about being an RVT so far is learning from her coworkers and educating owners and the public.  Morgan’s hobbies outside of school mostly revolve around her horses – showing and training as often as she can.  She also plays piano and trained to her first dan black belt in taekwondo which she hopes to return to one day. 

Morgan Ashdown

Teryn McBain grew up on an acreage 30 minutes south of the Saskatoon by Pike Lake.  Teryn has always loved animals and knew that she wanted her career to revolve around them.  Teryn has three rescue dogs Callie, Cookie, and Cinnamon and an off track thoroughbred named Dainer.  Teryn is looking forward to pursue a career in large animal medicine if possible.  Her favourite part of being an (R)VT so far is being able to work with animals as part of her job everyday meaning it makes her job something she loves.  Teryn enjoys riding and competing in show jumping with her horse Dainer and driving drag race cars.  Teryn was the 2019 champion of the class Super Pro at Saskatchewan International Raceway against men and women of all ages.  In the future Teryn would like to specialize as an RVT related to where ends up working which hopefully is in large animal medicine.

Teryn McBain

Erica Quittenbaum grew up on a farm near Asquith, SK. Growing up on a farm she always had an interest in the animals around her. She remembers one time when she was young the vet came to pregnancy check the cows and she thought it was the coolest thing! Erica loves being a part of the agriculture world, helping people, and being outside. Being an RVT allows Erica to do all of those things!

Erica has bottle raised a few calves but currently has a dog, a horse, and some chicks. After graduating from the program Erica would love to work with large animals and to work outside as much as possible. She looks forward to exploring non-traditional roles as an RVT in environments other than a clinical setting. Her favourite part about almost being an RVT is being able to help people through caring for, nurturing, and educating owners about their animals. In the future of veterinary medicine in her community Erica is looking forward to being able to share her knowledge and wisdom with those around her so that they can better care for their animals. Erica has enjoyed all of the practical learning opportunities during her time in the program and look forward to many more as her career progresses. Erica is very thankful for the many people she has met through the program and looks forward to what God has planned for her in the future of veterinary medicine.

Erica Quittenbaum

Cadence Thompson grew up in Warman, SK and has always had a strong passion and big heart for all animals. Cadence currently has a chocolate lab puppy named Remington and an orange tabby cat named Reba. After graduation Cadence would love to work in a small animal clinic. Cadence’s favourite part so far about being an (R)VT is being excited to go to work every day knowing each day will be something new and a new pet to meet. Cadence also looks forward to being able to continue learning and gaining more knowledge in veterinary medicine. Cadence loves anything outdoor, canoe trips, camping, gardening, and travelling. She also fs really loves spending time with family and friends. Cadence is excited to help be an advocate for animals and to help share the importance of animal welfare. Being fear-free is something she is very passionate about and an area she looks forward to raising awareness about. Cadence is thankful for the friends she has gained through the vet tech program and is excited to see where this career takes her and each of her classmates.

Cadence Thompson

Mercedes Kuny grew up on an acreage near Tisdale, SK and recently graduated from Lakeland College. Mercedes has two dogs at home, Annie and Murdock along with 2 horses and about 10 farm cats. Mercedes has always known she wanted to work in veterinary medicine. She started volunteering at her local clinic when she was in middle school and loved every aspect of the clinic and admired how hard working the technicians were and how much they were able to do within the hospital. From helping clients over the phone to monitoring a patient under anesthetic to placing an IV catheter, she appreciated the broad skill set technicians had to have. Mercedes is now excited to be a part of that and loves being able to help patients and along the way the clients as well. Mercedes loves that her job is something different everyday and that it makes each day exciting since you never know what’s going to happen. After graduation Mercedes plans to work in small and exotic medicine and improve her understanding about as many different species as she can. Veterinary medicine is an amazing field to work in and Mercedes is extremely proud to now be a part of it.

Mercedes Kuny

Mckenzie Bentley grew up in Dalmeny, SK and is now living in Warman, SK. Mckenzie decided to become an RVT because she has always loved every type of animal and continuously learning which means that veterinary medicine has a lot to offer her. Mckenzie currently has three animals: a rescue mixed breed dog named Yahto, a rescue cat named Hank (pictured), and a red-eared slider turtle named Squirt. Growing up she’s previously had pets from hermit crabs to a cockatiel. After graduation Mckenzie has accepted a job at a small animal clinic and would love to have a specialty one day. Mckenzie has big dreams to someday work with wildlife, zoo animals, or even in a research setting. Her favourite part of becoming an RVT so far is educating clients and enriching their pet’s life both behaviorally and nutritionally. Mckenzie loves seeing new and familiar pets every day and having puppies or kittens come into the clinic will always put a smile on her face. Mckenzie loves outdoor adventures such as camping, canoeing, and hiking and would love to try white-water rafting again. Anything outside in the fresh air Mckenzie finds relaxing. In the future Mckenzie looks forward to continuing to volunteer at Catsnip and La Ronge spay/neuter clinics.

Mckenzie Bentley

Amber Rudolph was born and raised in Regina, SK, and has a dog and two cats and enjoys camping and travelling. Amber decided to become an RVT after trying to find something that would involve animals in her everyday life. She came across the VT program and thought it was a perfect fit. Amber loves how RVTs have so many different roles and responsibilities. Amber’s plans are to continue working in a small animal practice after graduating to continue to expand her skills and knowledge. Amber’s favourite part of being an RVT so far is the continuous learning aspect and the fact that there’s no day that repeats itself. Amber is excited to expand her knowledge because there’s so much to learn about in the field of vet met and share her knowledge to help educate clients and answer their questions.

Amber Rudolph

Lyle Medernach is from Allan, SK. Lyle discovered one day that all of his favourite people were animal lovers so he figured that becoming an RVT was the best way to work with a group of people that he enjoyed being around. Lyle also wanted to learn more about modern medicine without having to deal with sick people. Although Lyle doesn’t have any of his own pets he is always looking for pets at parties and get togethers. Lyle is looking forward to paying off student loan debt and is employed at VIDOInterVac. One of Lyle’s favourite parts about being an RVT is that it’s like being the fun uncle – he gets to play with all the pets but doesn’t have to pick up any poop (so to speak). Lyle’s passions are music and education. He loves listening to and playing music and is always looking for a new subject to learn about. In the future Lyle is excited to learn more about medicine and animal wellness in all of its facets. Lyle would like to get involved with wildlife groups and see what affects animals in the Canadian forests (so hit him up if you have opportunities). Lyle came into the program at Sask Polytech with no experience with animals in a clinic setting. His entire understanding of animal care consisted of growing up on a farm feeding livestock and barn cats. Even so, the community welcomed Lyle with open arms and gave him all the help he needed both in school and in clinics, to become a proper Vet Tech. Lyle says it goes to show that even an oddball with no foreknowledge of what he is walking into, can succeed with nothing more than an urge to learn and a positive smile.

Getting a photo of Lyle proved difficult so.. pretend this photo is Lyle – which means you have to image this stick figure VERY tall.

Things I Wish I Knew When I Was New

Submitted by Marta Van Camp, RVT, Member-at-Large SAVT Board of Directors

As a first time member on the SAVT Board of Directors, I have been tasked with submitting a blog post.  I was excited at this prospect to share what I can, and had plenty of topics that I thought of to write about.  However, given the current state of affairs I would like to focus this post to our student population (though I think there is knowledge to be gained for some of our more seasoned members as well).

A bit about me – I’ve been working in the the Veterinary field for over ten years now. I’ve worked predominantly in small animal practices ranging from small general practice clinics to large specialty hospitals, with the odd dabble in lab work, and exotics.  This experience has been acquired throughout Canada and the U.S., and I only recently moved to Saskatoon in late 2017.

I currently work at the WCVM as an RVT in the B.J. Hughes Centre for Clinical Learning.

In this role I’ve had the pleasure of getting to work with the recently, and soon to be graduating Saskatchewan Polytechnic students, and I can’t tell you how rewarding, and encouraging that has been.  The passion and drive you all have is infectious, and has been an important reminder to me of how proud I am to be an RVT.  I wanted to take this opportunity to return the favor, and present to you some things I wish I knew when I was a new to the field.

Documents – Keep all of your paperwork in one specific place.  You never know where life will take you, and having all of the necessary documents required for registering in different provinces and states is vital.  It is also important when renewals come around.  Having to scrounge for every CE document you’ve acquired the night before renewals are due is never fun (I know – I’ve done it).  Luckily for us, the SAVT website allows us to scan and upload our CE as we accrue them (most places I’ve worked has you snail mail the documents in), but do always keep a paper copy as well for your records.

Registration – Every association differs slightly in their requirements, and sometimes the language is confusing.  Though having your VTNE test results, and school transcripts are generally required across the board, they might not be the only information you’ll need.  When in doubt, reach out to the association, as they are usually happy to help you navigate their procedures.

Well rounded job experience – There are so many job opportunities for RVT’s these days, and you’ve all seen the plethora of paths that one can choose to take in a budding career.  That being said, I find there is great value in putting in time at a general practice clinic when you’re fresh out of school.  This will allow you to hone your core skills while your education is still fresh.  Connecting the dots between the theoretical and practical will give you a solid base that you will be able to pull from no matter where your career takes you.

Find your team – I have moved a lot over the past ten years, and have worked in a variety of different positions and establishments.  I think the most important thing I’ve learned is finding a workplace environment that works for you.  We are generally a very passionate bunch, but passion doesn’t always equal positive.  Burnout is a real concern in this field, and often team members that are experiencing symptoms of that can devolve a whole workplace into a toxic work environment.  They come in many forms, could involve all levels of the Veterinary team, and are, unfortunately, more prevalent than you may realize.  I could probably write a whole blog just on this subject, but here is a link to a great one by Jade Velasquez, LVT

https://drandyroark.com/stuck-toxic-workplace/

The “Cole’s notes” I would take from this is that what you tolerate is a choice, so you should choose wisely.  One of the best things about being an RVT is that we are always in demand.  This should empower you, as you can always find work elsewhere.  Don’t let one bad work environment color your career, the right fit for you is out there, you just need to find it.

Boundaries – I touched earlier on the prevalence of burnout, and we’ve all read the articles on the alarming rates of suicide in the Veterinary profession – not exactly inspiring, I know.  The reality is the more we talk about it the more change can happen.  It took me a while to realize that part of my own struggle with compassion fatigue is that I always want to help.  I think the majority of us can agree that’s generally what we all want to do; we want to help our patients, our clients, and each other, but that drive often comes at the expense of not helping ourselves.  It’s hard when you’re first entering the field to feel like you’re entitled to have a voice or an opinion, but you do, so use it – in a respectful and professional way, of course.  It may take some time, but learning your capabilities, and also how to say no when things get to be too much, is an important skill to learn for your own mental health.  That being said, don’t let your inexperience keep you from pushing yourselves, and striving to be the best that you can be, just know that there is a balance to be found, which will allow for a healthy and long career.

Associations (SAVT) – Your association is here to help!  Though this is my first experience as a member of a Board of Directors, I have quickly learned that this is an often untapped resource for new and soon to be members.  Think about it, it is a group of RVTs from all different backgrounds, with all different levels of experience in all different areas. They volunteer their time to help better the lives of RVTs everywhere, and that includes you.  The SAVT has student representatives that speak on behalf of you at all board meetings, as well as a committee devoted specifically to student networking.  From my experience we are an open source who would be happy to help our newest members in any way we can.  We represent you, our constituents, so reach out – or better yet, get involved, and be the change that you want to see.

Finally to the graduating class of 2020 – I’m sure you’re sick of hearing that these are “unprecedented times we live in” as reasoning for the challenges you have faced, and will be facing this year.  Believe me when I say, I do not envy the position that you are in. 

However, as the saying goes, “this too shall pass”, and if you continue having the drive and resolve you’ve shown us this far, you will come out the other end of this stronger and better RVTs. And let’s face it – isn’t that what we need?

Pictured is Marta and Nellie at the Sutherland off leash area last Christmas. Good girl Nellie!