Another year has gone by and it is once again October. For many Canadians October brings Fall Leaves, Halloween and Pumpkin Spice Latte’s! For people in the veterinary field it also brings Veterinary Technician week (October 13-19) and for Ontario Technicians, Veterinary Technician Month (October). In the clinic we celebrate with coffee day, treats, displays and lunches (Thank you Dr.Liz and our sales Reps) but I use this as a time every year to take a few minutes to reflect and appreciate what’s changed in this great profession I'm in….and every year the answer is A LOT but also NOTHING.
There have been huge changes in how we interact with and handle cats. If you've been in the clinic in the last year you might have noticed that I've become Fear Free Certified and Low Stress Handling Certified. This has changed how I even look at cats. A cat whose behaviour we historically called aggressive we now recognize as fear. Once you make this mental switch everything changes; you almost have no choice but to become more compassionate to what they are feeling. Back when I first graduated our end goal was always to "get it done" when it came to medical procedures in spite of the patients behaviour and many of us as individuals were very proud of our cat (and dog) restraint abilities. It was a badge of honour to be the person that was called upon to wrestle with that psychotically aggressive cat and to be able to do so. Unknowingly we were creating a whole generation of pets (cats especially) who didn't receive veterinary care because the patient became to "aggressive" (really scared) to handle or their owners were just to embarrassed of their "bad behaviour" to bring them to the clinic. Now I'm proud when we can use other techniques such as distraction and towel wraps to work with our clients to create visits where their cats aren't so traumatized they never want to come back. Happy Pets means Happy Veterinary Staff and Happy Owners. There will always be changes in medicine...new medications, new foods, new techniques, these are definitely important and I wouldn't want to work somewhere that wasn't keeping up to date but in my opinion this switch in how we approach cats is the biggest change I've seen in a long time.
On a more personal note I've managed to overcome my fear of public speaking enough to present several lunch lectures to both of our teams which has allowed these thoughts and techniques to be brought to our other team members. Using these same Low Stress techniques I've also managed to train one of my personal cats (Tucker) to help me present a 5 minute video filmed by Communivet on tips for technicians involving cats in the clinic. This is still in the production phase but filming was an experience I never even would have imagined being involved in a couple years ago. Being asked to participate was quite an honour and I can't wait to see the final cut.
I've been a Registered Veterinary Technologist for over 26 years now and even with all the changes over the years at the very base of what I do is the same now as it was then. I am still passionate about veterinary medicine and patient care (Believe it or not I used to be a dog person) And to that High School Counsellor who advised me to pick a different profession I still have no plans to leave this field any time soon.
If your interested in the first blog I wrote in 2012 on this topic check out https://www.thecatclinic.ca/cats-meow.php?post=national-veterinary-technicians-week
Written by Angelina Johnstone RVT