Continuing education at MPES is very important for all staff. By pursuing these opportunities, we are able to offer high end services and skills to our clients and patients. Personally, I really enjoy going to conferences. I find them informative, in that I am able to see what other technicians are doing, and I enjoy both sharing and receiving new tips and tricks of the trade. It is also helpful to know that equine technicians everywhere struggle with the kinds of challenges I face. It is both helpful and encouraging to listen to talks and be able to say “Yes, that happens to me and that is what I do.” When my practices are consistent with what people are promoting at educational conferences, I know I am offering the best care with the most updated information and techniques out there. When they are not, I learn something new that might improve my clinical skills. This is information that I would otherwise not have if I did not attend conferences.
One of the conferences I attended this past fall was the Northeastern Association of Equine Practitioners (NEAEP) American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (AAEVT) Excellence symposium (Boy, that’s a mouthful!) in Norfolk, Virginia. In addition to the roundtable discussion on practice management, of which I had the honour of being a panelist, the agenda included some great topics: neurological examination, regenerative therapies, anesthesia and sedation during dystocia, caring for the sick foal, lameness, cardiac disease and wound management. We also spent a day at a local equine clinic learning and applying the practical skills involved with field anesthesia, cardiac ultrasound and dental radiology. I definitely returned to Ontario with some new knowledge and confidence in my skills as a technician.
About a month or so after returning from Norfolk, I was back on a plane, this time heading to San Antonio, Texas for the annual American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) conference. If you talk to an equine veterinarian or aspiring equine veterinarian in North America, they will boast about how expansive and in depth this conference can be. Attending is an annual tradition for some, and with so many great minds present, I can see why. The educational opportunities don’t stop there either. The massive trade fair and numerous social and networking opportunities offered can inspire one to continue to grow and learn within our chosen professions. The AAEVT holds a technician specific educational stream and Dr. Pownall and I were among some excellent speakers. We presented our ideas on the use of social media in equine practice with a focus on the technician’s role in this type of initiative.
One of my favourite high lights of this conference was a presentation made by the Veterinary Emergency Response Team. This group of dedicated individuals from Texas A&M University responds to disasters and helps manage the affected animals. This initiative was established after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, when people refused to leave their homes if they were unable to take their pets with them. Obviously this is a situation that can be dangerous for all involved. Hearing the success stories of recent wild fire rescues, reconnecting pets and people, and seeing the passion for this project within each rescuer brought tears to my eye. One portion of their presentation was an interactive mock rescue simulation. As participants we were asked to make life and death decisions for a number of cases in a matter of seconds, not an easy job or one to be taken lightly. This program has been so successful that it has been incorporated into the 3rd year veterinary medicine program as an elective course. Students can gain invaluable experience working with this one of a kind team. To learn more about the Veterinary Emergency Team you can visit their website www.vetmed.tamu.edu/vet/about and I promise you will be inspired.
Since attending this conference I have been able to pass on this knowledge to the rest of the technicians and assistants at MPES and am looking forward to the next one!