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!
“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.”
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
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.”
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
Submitted by Teresa Nahachewsky, RVT, Member-at-Large SAVT Board of Directors
Are you tired of your dog looking at you with those big puppy eyes, begging for attention? Does your cat lay on all the things that you try to work on? Is your bird doing … bird things? Do your kids randomly switch personalities between heavenly angels and the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes?
Yeah. Life is crazy right now. Or it always was, but you could find easier ways to escape it before we had the civic duty to protect our neighbours as ourselves from this invisible enemy. The question is: what can we do to channel the energy in our homes? Well, my dear readers, the answer is simple. If your home is a zoo, do what zoos do! Develop better Environmental Enrichment protocols!
Environmental Enrichment can be broken down into 5 main areas:
Sensory: smell, sight, taste, touch, and sound. This is like putting on the bird channel for your cat
Environmental: specific needs of the animal like climbing, perching, nesting areas, etc. like making a blanket fort
Foraging/Feeding: most commonly thought of, like using chop sticks for people who aren’t used to them
Occupational: Habits regarding action, like chewing a stick, grooming, using task oriented devices. These are often used together with the foraging/feeding strategies, like using a treat ball for a dog’s meal
Play: Using non-food related toys and opportunities to learn and interact and have fun with! Like playdough!
According to the Toronto Zoo (as well as many other educational sources on animal and human enrichment), “It was a positive effect on our animals by allowing them to interact with one another in a very natural way. It also stimulates their minds and provides them with physical and mental exercise.” Which sounds like a great way to say, “It keeps them busy and out of trouble for the most part.”
Is that what you need in your household this week? Here are some suggestions on how to keep your Home Zoo happy and healthy! For simplicity’s sake, I’ve sorted my suggestions into the 5 areas by a common Home Zoo build of Dog, Cat, Child (elementary school age), and Adult.
Dog: Go for a walk specifically for smelling (your dog walks you). Or lay treat/kibble trails through your house to practice nose work (kids can help with this one!)
Cat: Strap a broom head to the edge of a cat post as a new rubbing feature. Enhance their attraction to it with cat nip!
Child: “What’s in the box” game – put different objects in a box and have your kid stick their hand in to guess what it is!
Dog: Create a safe zone for your dog using a kennel, or “dog specific area” where no one is allowed to bother the dog. Practice with your kids to read dog body language to know when the dog might need some alone time. Family Paws Parent Education is a great resource for becoming a Dog Aware Family!
Cat: Make sure there are adequate “get away” spots up high for your cat to look around and hide from the over-abundant children that are now in their area. Try having at least one perch set up in the 2-3 rooms your cat spends the most time in.
Child: Let your kids get creative! It’s what they do best! Make a list with them of 5 things they want to do, whether it’s build a boat, colour a picture, make a cave, and then use your imagination (and theirs) to make it happen! For example, the boat can be made of paper and put to the test in the bathtub.
Adult: Cleanliness is next to Godliness. It also reduces stress and anxiety when things are in a good place for you! The trick is to make it simple and rewarding for yourself. Watch some Marie Kondo on Netflix, pick a room, and do something to it that you know will spark joy!
Dog: Have a yard? Scatter the kibble in the grass (or snow) and let your dog find their meal! Make a stuffed kong with peanut butter or soft food and freeze it! My dog personally loves ice cubes, so I just make sure I have a steady supply of those handy. Free and easy!
Cat: Have a spare shoe mat lying around? One with rubber fingers or ridges meant to catch dirt? Smear some wet food (soaked kibble works well too!) into the mat and let your kitty lick their meal away! It’s like a snuffle mat that you didn’t have to make or spend tons on. Bonus for it being easy to clean!
Child: Finger food painting. Meals of finger food, and then let your kids make whatever kind of landscape or funny faces they want! On their plate, of course. Also easily done at snack time with fruits and veggies and dips.
Adult: One word: Mealime. It’s a meal-prep app that gives you the option to put all the ingredients in a grocery list that can then be edited from anyone in your household, even while you’re at the store! My family has never been disappointed by the recipes yet. Best thing about it? It’s free!
Dog: This can be something specific to the kind of dog you have. If your dog is a digger, make a “dig safe” spot for them. If they are a herder, teach them to round up their toys in the living room. If they aren’t as active a dog, get them something to chew on while they lay in bed. Whole frozen carrots can be a tasty treat if you can’t get a chew toy at the moment!
Cat: What do cats do? Hunt. Even the fattest, laziest cat will go after a shoelace dangling in front of them. Don’t have time to play with your cat? Make it a game for your kids that they don’t get a snack until they’ve played with the cat for 5 minutes. This will satisfy the instinct to hunt multiple times a day for your feline friend!
Child: School work fits in here. If you struggle with keeping everything else in the household functioning on top of school, this is a great time to use a video chat app to get the grandparents or other family members involved! You can even take turns with other parents during the week to help with homework!
Adult: Whether you have a job at this time or not, be kind to yourself. Things have changed and will continue to do so. Set yourself 1 or 2 goals a day to accomplish. If that’s as simple as getting everybody to brush their teeth today? Fantastic! If it’s something like do an inventory of the freezer? Great! If it’s to go for a 20-minute walk by yourself? Wonderful! Life will always be hectic. Take the time to enjoy it too.
Dog: Let your dog do their thing, or have even more fun and start shaping new behaviours! Play games like 101 Things to Do With A Box. Here is a video of Dr. Sophia Yin training her pup using shaping (no words or cues, just trial and error!) to put her feet in a box. The best part is you can use shaping techniques on ALL SPECIES! Make it a game with both your cat and your kids too! Try get them to figure out an action you want performed with just a positive marker.
Cat: Cats already know what they want to do with a box, so let them play! Bonus if you use a crumpled-up paper ball to chase!
Child: Get outside! Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t physically leave your house. Go for a bike ride, strap on roller skates, roll in the grass (or snow, depending on the situation), go camping in the yard or in the house, the possibilities are endless. The only goal is the smile and laugh!
Adult: Set up a chat with your neighbour across the street. Sit on your lawn while they sit on theirs and have a beer together. Live farther away from people? Use your favourite video chat app to just hang out with a group of friends! Get on Steam and play board games together virtually! Need some alone time away from kids? Ask the grandparents to follow this example for some safe interactions!
When all is said and done, no one knows your Zoo like you. Adapt and change with patience and kindness. Wash your hands. Come together by staying separate. We can get through this! You got this, Friends!
Jolene Watson, RVT, Professional Speaker & Trainer President, Clarity Coaching & Development www.jolenewatson.com
“You can’t change your personality type, but you can ALWAYS change your behaviors”. This quote has absolutely changed my life and my veterinary career trajectory.
I currently have the absolute privilege of teaching my ‘Veterinary Client Relations’ course annually at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. After graduating (20 years ago) I was asked to speak to a group of students; this sparked my initial interest in public speaking which eventually led me to become an entrepreneur, personality expert, speaker, trainer and Certified Business Coach across Canada. I am also currently in the process of getting certified in Positive Psychology, Body Language, Neurolinguistic Programming & Emotional Intelligence (just for fun).
My ongoing passion for learning and getting out of my comfort zone has truly been an asset in my life! My fondest memories include being the head RVT at the Cat Hospital of Saskatoon, giving my first keynote speech at the 2013 SAVT conference and my first job which was petting cats for the Animal Care Unit (true story).
My students continually inspire me with their brilliant ideas and desire for growth! Part of the course I designed focuses on career choices; it is so important to realize that we have dozens of options after graduation in a variety of niches (we brainstorm a lot in my classes).
NAVTA offers so many opportunities.
What area of expertise do you want to be certified in?
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.