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Life in Practice.. not always as it would seem

Submitted by Breanne Barber, RVT, SAVT President-Elect & RVTTC Director

Recently, I was asked to give a presentation to the third-year Western College of Veterinary Medicine students on life in practice. When I was first asked to give this presentation, I was not sure what to say or how I should go about getting my point across on how to utilize Registered Veterinary Technologists to their full potential and use them as part of the veterinary team. I thought I would talk about all the duties and responsibilities that an RVT can do in practice…well that list just kept getting longer and it was too much to fit on just one slide. Then, I thought about when I am in a group of my peers, colleagues or other professionals what do we talk about… we tell stories! That was it! I would tell stories about how my profession as an RVT was utilized in practice to assist the DVMs and other members of the veterinary team. 

While I was making my slideshow, I wanted to make sure that my stories would accompany pictures of the patients that I had helped treat in the hospital. You never really realize how many pictures are on your phone until you start looking for specific ones… I have over 1,200! I also asked Veterinarians that I currently work with and worked with in the past to give me quotes or advice they would like to give to the students. I got a wide variety of advice and I am thankful to all the Veterinarians I have worked with over the years that I have made lasting professional connections with. I find myself texting these Veterinarians for advice on cases, dosage recommendations or any new continuing education they have taken that may help with a case we are struggling with in the clinic. I have created my very own veterinary information network just by having connections with all the amazing professionals I have connected with over the years.

I created a slideshow that was 26 slides long that ranged in a wide variety of cases where an RVT was utilized to their fullest potential in practice. There were slides for the tough cases, interesting cases, the fly by the seat of your pants cases, the sad cases, teamwork cases, etc. As an RVT I am the one being the eyes, ears and sometimes nose for the Veterinarian. Also, you MUST be an excellent note-taker! Medical records are essential to make sure that you have all the information needed for the Veterinarian to determine a course of treatment which may change if the clinical symptoms change.

While talking with the students, I expressed to them the importance of recognizing mental health concerns for both DVMs and RVTs and finding a work-life balance. Easier said than done right! I am not the first to say we work in a profession that demands highly of us and our knowledge of veterinary medicine which is forever changing. Veterinary professionals can be dealt a different hand every second of every day depending on the situation. The veterinary team that you create in practice and the personal team you create at home must be able to assist you in specific ways both personally and professionally. Finding the perfect work-life balance is never going to be easy but the most important thing that you can do for yourself is to understand and recognize that if something is not working then it may be time to make a change. Change can be the scariest thing for some people and for others it does not affect them or comes naturally.

What I have learned from the changes I have made in my life in the past few years is that in the beginning, it can feel like you have made the worst mistake and you have panic moments thinking that maybe it wasn’t so bad before and I can take it back. Then you wake up one day or you are at work and have this moment of relief that you did the right thing, you feel like yourself again, you are happy to be going to work, you are happy to be going home to see your partner, your friends are noticing the change and soon you begin to notice the change in yourself. The negative energy and feelings that you had weekly or daily seem to have disappeared and you want to enjoy life again both personally and professionally.

It’s okay to not be okay. There is nothing wrong with you and the people closest to you will help you get through your struggles. Your veterinary team, your family, friends and even our furry friends are key players to help you succeed in life. Life in practice can be exciting, challenging, demanding, upsetting and I mean that is just a regular Monday… We can acknowledge that times have changed and move forward, or we can stay where we are destroying ourselves and the profession from within. Change is inevitable, progress is optional, inspire and lead change for progress!


Breanne Barber, RVT

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