Stop. Let’s talk about communication within our profession.

Submitted by Shyla Heagy, RVT

There are somethings you should consider before you communicate with someone in the veterinary community. We communicate daily at work and in our personal lives. How you communicate in your personal life and in your profession can be very different but should be treated the same. There is a level of professionalism required when communicating within our profession. You must be mindful of the professional/private friendships that form and when and what is appropriate to discuss within work life matters. Those friendships that are with colleagues can seem to form a grey area around where to draw the line. So do not consider it a grey area at all, being a part of the veterinary community, we are professionals. Even when we are not at work or not speaking with a fellow veterinary team member, we should be upholding professional communication that is courteous and we should avoid being slanderous. Our personal behavior does reflect on who we are professionally as well as it effects the public’s perception of the veterinary community. The SVMA and SAVT hold its members to a high standard of professionalism, compassion, and good character. This is reiterated in the Bylaws, which should be read and understood before considering entering the profession to strive towards maintaining a high level of excellence. Following the Bylaws allows its members to be united and more consistent in how they conduct themselves.

In our Bylaws and Veterinarians Act of 1867 there is a standard in which we are to treat others in the veterinary community and how we are to uphold the professionalism for the good of our associations. We need to be able to communicate within our profession for the good of the animals. This is stated in the following Bylaw Section 12.3 h) Members shall communicate with each other to ensure health and welfare of any animal or group of animals. When communicating concerns in a professional manner there are a few things to consider. Are you speaking to the appropriate person about the matter and is your context professional? If there is conflict you should consult with an employer, supervisor, manager, or someone with the SAVT or SVMA to see if the issues can be resolved. They can guide you to the proper proceedings and offer you an outside view. If it is about another clinic do not contact them directly, speak to the SVMA. If something is bothering, you do not publicly or privately contact people about conflict because it can be received negatively. Many things can be taken out of context, if you feel you need to speak to someone there are options for counselling services available through our association. You can speak about your thoughts and issues without it being made public because it would confidential. Practice Standards Section 5g F: Members individually and collectively, shall uphold the integrity of the veterinary profession and must maintain the trust of their clients and society through exemplary standards of clinical practice and conduct including competence, accountability, honesty, fairness, compassion, and confidentiality.

With social media being so prevalent it is easy to make communication unprofessional. Social media can aid in helping you professionally with your business and the profession. It can also cause a lot of upset and be used inappropriately without thinking of the consequences. It can be used to showcase your staff, represent your clinic, educate the public, familiarize the public to the roles of the people in the veterinary profession and make people aware of the services available. These would all be considered appropriate and professional uses for social media if done right. There are many risks and consequences of unprofessional communication in a public forum.

A written complaint can be submitted against you to the SVMA through the Professional Conduct Committee. If the Professional Conduct Committee thinks the complaint is unsubstantiated then it is dissolved and there is no further investigation with the complaint. However, if they find the complaint to have validity, this complaint must be sent to the accused member themselves. That member has the right to respond to the complaint, this is when the member can give a written explanation and submit any other documents about the complaint. If the Professional Conduct Committee finds just cause for the complaint it allows the process to continue. The Professional Conduct Committee will review the complaint and investigate it as they see fit.  The Professional Conduct Committee uses The Veterinarians Act 1987, the SVMA Bylaws and Practice Standards to guide them with the complaint. If the matter can be settled by the Professional Conduct Committee, with the Alternate Dispute Resolution process, then the accused member is not sent to the Disciplinary Committee. If both parties do not agree, then the case is sent to Disciplinary Committee which either investigates, dismisses the case, or forwards the case to the Disciplinary Committee. The case goes to Disciplinary Committee hearing in which the final decisions are made. If the member is found guilty of professional misconduct or incompetence, there are several consequences that can happen to the member.

Depending on the severity of the complaint the member is disciplined in a variety of ways:

• The member may have to take certain classes or courses related to the reason they are being disciplined

• The Disciplinary Committee can also make any other order that they find appropriate such as writing an article on the matter

• Limitations in what they can do and how they must do it, but can continue to practice

• Receive medical treatment

• Suspension for a certain amount of time

• Fines at the discretion of the Disciplinary Committee

• License revoked

In conclusion if you need to communicate with someone in the veterinary community, take a step back and think first especially if you are upset. Think about how you can professionally deal with the situation.  Talk to someone who is nonbiased and reach out if you need to. Talk to a counselor or someone that works with the SAVT or SVMA someone that would keep it confidential. Use the counselling services the association offers us that’s what it’s there for! We all chose this profession for a reason, and we have that in common, we should always be working together to become stronger. It should be that we are building each other up not tearing each other down. We all know mental health is of high concern in veterinary medicine. We are here to serve animals and their welfare. This can take a toll on people in this field, so be kind to one another use the care and compassion we joined this profession in the first place with to help animals.  

Top 5 Tips for Holiday-Proofing the RVT

Submitted by Shannon McCallion, RVT & SAVT Financial Officer

Typically, at this time of the year, we are inundated with blogs and posts about holiday-proofing for our pets.   They, unfortunately, are necessary; we are all familiar with the “He got into the chocolate/turkey/cookies/garbage” or the “she looked so cute playing with the tinsel/ribbon/ornament” preceding the emergency apomorphine and charcoal treatment or the emergency surgery.   So, here is another list, with a twist – I’m calling it the TOP 5 TIPS FOR HOLIDAY-PROOFING THE RVT. 

  1. Let’s just start with the obvious one.  Chocolate.  “I can resist anything except temptation”.  Mr. Wilde must have been talking about a veterinary clinic around December -it is everywhere!  All those ‘just a little something to say thanks’ baking and treats from clients and vendors just keep coming!  There is chocolate everywhere you turn.   Even the staunchest ‘you can never have too much chocolate’ lover can get sick this time of year.  The toxic dosage of theobromine for humans is 1,000mg/kg of body weight, but ingest sufficient amounts of cocoa and you may find yourself with sweating, trembling and severe headaches, while all that fat and sugar can lead to diarrhea, weight gain and tears.  Try to eat at least one balanced meal a day.  And no, that doesn’t mean chocolate in both hands!  And while chocolate comes from cacao, a tree, making it plant material, it does not qualify as a salad.
  2. Inclement Weather.  While you are not likely to be going on many road trips during this pandemic, even a short errand run can be hazardous if you aren’t properly prepared.  Everyone in the vehicle should be dressed for the weather.  Wear your boots, even if they make you walk funny.  Put winter tires on the vehicle, keep the gas tank full, and carry an emergency kit that includes water.  It’s important to hydrate before you go outside; eating snow never provides enough hydration, and there is always the risk of the hidden yellow stuff! 
  3. Physical Exercise.  One of the easiest things to do to stay healthy this holiday season is to take a daily walk.  It helps to reduce stress, digest food and promote peristalsis, burn off extra calories and it gives you an excuse to get out of the house without breaking the social distancing rules or the wallet.  Or try tobogganing, skating or cross-country skiing.  And the mask helps to keep your nostrils from freezing together!
  4. Stress.  The ‘happiest time of the year’ paradoxically, can be the most stressful.  While the pandemic reduces the number of social events to attend and restricts the number of people invading your territory, even the presence of your family can get to be too much when it is constant.  Add the pressures of decorating, baking, shopping for presents and connecting with family, all while social distancing and it’s understandable that you might want to slink away and hide.  Make sure you have a quiet place to retreat to for a bit, just for you.  If all else fails, lock yourself in the car with some of that chocolate and tell your family you are checking the theobromine content in case of a toxic overdose!
  5. FUN.  Probably the single most important thing to remember this season, and where we can truly learn from our furry, four-legged family members, it that there is ALWAYS time for fun.  And anything can be fun and provide joy if you approach it with an open heart and endless curiosity.  So, take a cue from the smartest family members: stick your head out the car window and embrace the weather, say a happy hello to everyone you pass, roll around in the snow for a while, then curl up in the warm spot with your favourite people and give yourself a well-deserved treat.  The true spirit of the holiday season is found in our relationships and the time spent with those we truly love.
Shannon McCallion, RVT

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 Brittany Hunt, VT from Janine Kernaleguen, RVT VPM, both from Gateway Veterinary Services in Melfort, SK. “Brittany has been an important part of our care team since she came to us 4 years ago. She has the unique ability to step in and help in many areas to handle billing, inventory, front desk, large animal herd programs, reminders, client communications, take histories, restrain patients and support our technical team. She is a trusted face to our clients and never backs down from a challenge. Having her on our team has been essential to us working through the ups and downs of inventory changes and fluctuations these past 2 years as it has not always been easy. Thank you Brittany for everything you do for our team!”

Kudos goes to all the RVTs at VCA Central Animal Hospital from Kenzie Makowsky, RVT! “The RVTs and support staff at VCA Central Animal Hospital are amazing! Every time I visit with my fosters, or my own cat, they go above and beyond to make us feel welcome and well taken care of. They are such a fun, friendly and knowledgeable group. You can clearly see that they are true animal lovers by the way they still get so excited to see all the baby cats! Most notably, they have done an amazing job in keeping things running smoothly during these difficult COVID appointment times. This can’t be easy and they deserve huge credit. Thanks for always being so nice to us.”

Kudos goes to Crystal Wintonyuk, RVT, from Dr. Tracy Fisher. “Crystal is amazing! She does so much for the clinic and the other staff. An amazing leader and highly skilled RVT! Words are not enough!”

Kudos goes to Leigh Luker, RVT from Dr. Melissa Smith. “Leigh will be celebrating her 20 year anniversary of employment at Bellamy Harrison Animal Hospital in December 2020. She is a ‘veteran’ of life in the trenches in general practise and has helped mentor numerous vet students, technician students, high school volunteers and new grads over the years. She has enjoyed caring for many pets and family members over their lifetimes. Her experience and dedication make her a valuable part of our team. We wish to extend congratulations to Leigh on this momentous occasion and thank her for her grit, tenacity and hard work.”