Veterinary Nursing in Action

Zyna

October 14-20 is the annual celebration of National Veterinary Technician Week. In New York State, we call these animal healthcare professionals licensed veterinary technicians (LVT), but in other municipalities they are known as certified veterinary technicians, veterinary technologists, or registered veterinary technicians. No matter what their exact title is, these critical members of the veterinary healthcare team function as registered nurses do in human medicine. For a general description of the role of veterinary technicians, you can read a prior blog post.

The Animal Medical Center employs 90+ LVTs who support and enhance patient care working side-by-side with the veterinary staff. Space doesn’t allow me to describe the role of every LVT at AMC, so as part of our weeklong celebration of veterinary technicians, I will highlight just a couple of exceptional veterinary nurses in action.

Recovery
AMC’s Surgery Service has a cadre of LVTs focusing on pets recovering from general anesthesia. They work in a specially outfitted area right off the surgery preparation area. Once an anesthetic procedure is completed, the pet is moved into recovery and stays there on a soft mattress under a heating blanket until the anesthetic has worn off enough that they can again stand and walk normally. Xyna is a member of the recovery tech team. She is new to AMC and a recent graduate of SUNY Canton’s accredited LVT program. Like all LVTs, she was trained in recovery techniques, but never thought she could have a full-time job, supervising anesthetic recovery. When I visited recovery to speak with Xyna, under her care was a pug with a hip dislocation, a schnauzer fresh out of the CT scanner, and a cat recovering from a spleen removal surgery.

Radiation Therapy (RT)
One of AMC’s most experienced LVTs, Corrado, works in RT. After 17 years at AMC and about the same amount of time working as a tech for private practices and a guide dog school, he has seen it all from the tech perspective. His AMC career started in the blood bank and as backup for hemodialysis procedures. His next stop was CT/MRI where he was responsible for operation of the big machines and patient anesthesia.

Currently, Corrado operates our third big machine, the Varian linear accelerator and also serves as RT patient anesthetist. Even though all patients receiving radiation therapy do so under general anesthesia, these pets recover in their cages in the radiation therapy suite rather than in the surgical recovery area.

Want to learn more about veterinary nurses? Read these previous blog posts from National Vet Tech Week 2013 and 2012. And when you are done, don’t forget to say “thanks” to the veterinary nurses this week, and every week.

Everyday Medicine: Pulse Oximetry

pulse oximetry

Everyday medicine is an intermittent series of blog posts highlighting tests, treatments and procedures commonly used at AMC. Some past examples of this type of blog post include “What are Vital Signs” or “Five Reasons Veterinarians Love Fluid Therapy.” Today’s blog post will tackle the topic of pulse oximetry, a common monitoring tool used at AMC.

In the last publication of Everyday Medicine, I wrote about oxygen therapy and how veterinary patients depend on this vital element. Today, I am writing about a non-invasive method we use to monitor oxygen therapy, pulse oximetry.

The Device
A pulse oximeter is a portable device with two main parts: 1) a box that contains the software and a display panel, and 2) a sensor which attaches on one end to the box and on the other end to your pet. In people, the sensor is often attached to a finger, toe or ear lobe, but the hairy nature of paws and the thick pads make toes a less than ideal location in pets. Veterinarians typically attach the probe to the tongue or cheek, or the web of skin between the toes in anesthetized patients. In conscious patients, we use the ear flap.

The Measurement
The pulse oximeter measures how much oxygen is attached to the hemoglobin molecules within the red blood cells. The machine display reports the percent of the hemoglobin molecules that have oxygen attached to them, a value called the oxygen saturation. In a normal dog or cat, we expect the oxygen saturation to be near 100%. When oxygen saturation is less than approximately 94%, oxygen therapy is administered.

The Clinical Application
I bet AMC veterinarians use the pulse oximeter a couple of dozen times a day in a variety of situations. The most common use is as a monitoring tool for pets undergoing general anesthesia. Oxygen gas is used as part of the anesthetic protocol. If the pulse oximeter indicates the oxygen saturation is falling in an anesthetized pet, it is a clue for veterinarians and veterinary technicians monitoring the pet to adjust the anesthetic and oxygen levels. In pets with diseases affecting the lungs, like pneumonia or asthma, the pulse oximeter can assess the impact of oxygen therapy and also improvements in the pet’s underlying disease following administration of antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Simple and indispensable, the pulse oximeter is an essential device for the daily practice of veterinary medicine.

National Veterinary Technician Week 2013

This week, October 13-19, is National Veterinary Technician Week when we honor veterinary technicians or nurses for their role as critical members of the veterinary healthcare team. The technicians at The Animal Medical Center are a unique group in many ways.

A whole lotta’ techs
The AMC employs 75 technicians, each and every one licensed by the State of New York. These critical veterinary team members provide exceptional care to your pets no matter if it is high noon or 3 o’clock in the morning. The lowest number of technicians on duty in the hospital at any time during a 24 hour cycle is at 3 am when there are eight licensed veterinary technicians on the premises. These multi-tasking technicians run lab tests, take x-rays and provide compassionate patient care 24/7.

Big skill set
Because The AMC is a specialty hospital, our technicians learn specialized skills to support the veterinarians and patients on their team. We have technicians trained to perform hemodialysis, administer chemotherapy, prep patients for surgical procedures and assist in the operating room. Technicians maintain our delicate equipment like endoscopes and cage-side laboratory equipment to keep us ready for any emergency situation. Some of our long term technicians have worked in multiple areas throughout the hospital and have multidisciplinary skills, including care of exotic pets, plus administering radiation treatments or evaluating intraocular pressure and blood pressure!

Lifelong learning
Continuing education is required to maintain a veterinary technician license in New York State. To facilitate continuing education credits for our technicians, The AMC sponsors lectures on topics important to technicians, such as diabetes and heatstroke, through our Partners in Practice lecture series, and welcomes the participation of technicians from other veterinary practices as well. On a national level, the numbers of specialty certified technicians is small, but growing. The AMC is leading the pack with some of the first North American Veterinary Technician Academy (NAVTA) certified specialty technicians in the country. We currently have a total of five NAVTA certified technician in emergency critical care and anesthesia. The Tina Santi Flaherty Rehabilitation & Fitness Service has two technicians certified as Canine Rehabilitation Assistants and more in training.

A heartfelt thank you to vet techs everywhere
On behalf of veterinarians and the patients who benefit from the skills and knowledge of our technician team members, thank you for your hard work and dedication. Pets and vets need techs because we can’t do it without you.

National Veterinary Technician Week 2012

October 14- 20, is a celebration of the contributions to the healthcare of animals made by veterinary technicians. Often called “nurses,” these licensed professionals practice under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. In New York State, veterinary technicians prepare and give medications as ordered by the veterinarian, take x-rays, induce and maintain anesthesia, and assist with medical and surgical procedures. Most importantly, they are critical members of the team caring for your pet. Last year, in honor of Veterinary Technician week, I wrote about the care received by Jack Black the Cat.

Just as in human healthcare, nurses for animals are in great demand. Not only are career opportunities available for veterinary technicians to work in general veterinary offices, but specialization in various disciplines such as oncology or anesthesia, participation in biomedical research, enlistment in the military and even working as a technician in zoo and wildlife medicine are also widely available.

Like all professionals, there is a backstory about the day-to-day life of veterinary technicians. If you are considering a career as a veterinary technician or just know someone whose job it is to be a technician, you may be unaware of what a typical day entails. Hopefully this blog will give you a bit of the inside scoop and provide a greater appreciation for the labors of love they each perform every day for our pets.

Fashionistas need not apply

Looking for a job where you look great and wear fabulous clothes? Unless your skin tone becomes more ravishing when you wear scrub-suit green, being a veterinary technician is probably not for you. However, if you like to change clothes frequently, we can accommodate your needs. A shake of the head can send ear drops flying right onto your freshly laundered ensemble or a pooch with a bloody nose can change you plain shirt into a polka dot one!

Adoption options

Seeing cute animals all day, every day brings a smile to every technician’s face, since like veterinarians, they love being around animals. But loving animals occasionally has a darker side. Every animal hospital provides its employees with plenty of options to adopt a new pet: a basket of kittens left on the doorstep or a dog tied to the lamppost, but every family, even those with a member skilled in providing pet care, has a limit to the number of pets they can handle, both emotionally and financially.

Compassionate technicians may run the risk of trying to help too many of the animals in need that they encounter. Reliable resources for helping these animals are at the tip of the fingertips of the best technicians who know or have learned the limits of their care.

Injury report

Like many businesses, The AMC tracks statistics on workplace injuries. No surprises here: topping the list are bites and scratches, followed by back injuries. Fortunately, licks and kisses are not considered injuries, just part of the fun of being a tech.

A heartfelt thanks to all veterinary technicians

During National Veterinary Technician Week 2012, the veterinarians of The AMC would like to recognize our nearly 80 technicians – and every technician nationwide – for their commitment to their profession and the support of ours.

If you are thinking of a career as a veterinary technician, visit http://www.veterinarytechnician.com.

You will find lots of useful information and even job opportunities in your area.

Careers in Veterinary Medicine

On May 26th I participated in a career fair at IS 204 in Long Island City, Queens. In case there are any aspiring veterinarians reading this, I thought I would give a review of what I talked about at the career fair with these middle school students.

Most middle school students in New York City are exposed to veterinary medicine through the care a neighborhood veterinarian provides to a family pet such as a cat, dog or other companion animal, but the opportunities the profession offers are much wider.

Nearly 100,000 veterinarians in the United States provide healthcare to animals who supply us with food, such as cattle and fish, produce fiber for clothing, such as sheep and alpacas, and protect the public health though their efforts on behalf of local, state and federal agencies. Veterinarians care for animals in research laboratories, wildlife parks, zoos and classrooms. Other veterinarians become professors, training the next generation of animal caregivers.

Neighborhood veterinarians are typically generalists, providing preventive and general healthcare to their patients. Some veterinarians, like me, are specialists, with additional training. My training is in treating pets with cancer.

For middle school students interested in a career in veterinary medicine, choose a high school with a strong college preparatory program, especially in science and mathematics. Use your summers to explore veterinary medicine by volunteering at an animal shelter or veterinarian’s office. Participate in an animal related summer program. One such program is sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo.

Colleges of veterinary medicine offer summer programs for high school juniors and seniors. My alma mater, Cornell University, offers four programs for high school students. Michigan State University, Tufts University and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, host similar programs.

When choosing a college major, it is not essential to choose biology or animal science. I went to veterinary school with someone who had majored in Russian literature, but she completed all the science and math prerequisites required to apply to veterinary school. Keep in mind, grades matter. The University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine offers a college level summer “camp” for preveterinary students.

If the four years of college and four years of veterinary school are not for you, but you are interested in being part of an animal healthcare team, you might want to consider becoming a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT). Multiple programs throughout the country offer associate degrees in veterinary technology. The closest program to both The AMC and IS204 is at LaGuardia Community College, also in Long Island City, Queens.

Veterinary medicine offers great diversity in career options for the student interested in biology, zoology and mathematics. Additional information on pursing a career in veterinary medicine and veterinary technology can be found at the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.

Celebrating Key Members of the Veterinary Healthcare Team

When you make a visit to your doctor, an entire team of medical professionals work together to provide you with optimal care. A visit to your pet’s veterinarian is no different. The key member of the veterinary healthcare team we are celebrating this week is the licensed veterinary technician, sometimes called registered veterinary technician, licensed veterinary medical technician or certified veterinary technician.

October 10-16, 2010 is National Veterinary Technician Week and celebrates the hands-on contributions these professionals make to animal health. These highly trained team members specialize in being the veterinarian’s right hand and have duties similar to nurses in human medicine. Most of you are familiar with veterinary technicians who draw blood from your pet or help you to administer medications. But, there is more to this profession than pet owners typically see. You won’t usually see them taking x-rays, giving chemotherapy or preparing a patient for anesthesia and assisting in surgery, but veterinary technicians are essential team members throughout the veterinary hospital.

Veterinary technicians are not limited to working in small animal clinics. They help provide medical care to livestock, laboratory animals, wildlife and zoo animals. Their broad training teaches them skills useful in laboratories, medical supply companies or the pet food manufacturing industry. Many are promoted to veterinary practice manager while others pursue additional training in rehabilitation medicine.

Most veterinary technicians have a two-year associate degree, although some veterinary technician programs lead to a baccalaureate degree. Once they have earned a degree, veterinary technicians must pass a licensing examination administered by the state. Each state’s requirements for licensing are different. The job prospects for licensed veterinary technicians are excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth of 36% is expected between 2008-2018 for veterinary technician positions. This is higher than the expected growth for all occupations overall.

A recent innovation in the veterinary technician world is specialization. Now, technicians can be acknowledged as experts in their field. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognizes eight academies, or areas of specialization, such as internal medicine, anesthesia, and emergency and critical care. To become certified, technician specialists must complete a formal process of education, training, experience and testing. The Animal Medical Center currently has five technician specialists and more enrolled in the training process.

During National Veterinary Technician Week, The AMC would like to recognize our nealry 80 technicians and thank them for their commitment to their profession.
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For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.

AMC Partners In Practice Seminars

View our full listing of CE lectures available at AMC


Better Medicine Through Continuing Education

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PIP Comprehensive Clinical Conferences

Partners In Practice Comprehensive Clinical Conferences are intended to provide several hours of comprehensive review and updates of important and contemporary topics in veterinary medicine. Upon completion, participants should gain enhanced knowledge of the selected topic. Conferences are held at the AMC on Sundays from 9:00am – 3:00pm and are both RACE and NYSED approved.

2019 Conferences

  • Sunday, February 10: Veterinary Technician Lecture – Practical Anesthesiology and Pain Management, Presented by Dr. Melissa Smith and Jesse Cornell, MS Ed, LVT, VTS (Anesthesia/Analgesia) This event is full and registration is closed
  • Sunday, April 28: Dermatology – New insights for managing persistent skin problems. Presented by Dr. Andrew Hillier, DACVD

PIP Practical Clinical Workshops

Partners In Practice Practical Clinical Workshops are designed to promote sound diagnosis and effective therapies. Bring case materials and participate in our time-honored teaching rounds and small group, interactive workshops. PIP Workshops are held monthly at AMC and are NYSED approved. 2019 schedule is forthcoming.

 


All PIP events are RACE accredited and NY State CE approved, unless otherwise noted.

If you have questions, please contact Dr. Phil Fox at philip.fox@amcny.org or call 212.329.8606.