Opportunities in Equine Veterinary Practice for Technicians
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Opportunities in Equine Veterinary Practice for Technicians



Elise Wickett, RVT and Mike Pownall, DVM of McKee-Pownall Equine Services gave this presentation to the OAVT on December 19, 2011

Elise Wickett, RVT and Mike Pownall, DVM of McKee-Pownall Equine Services gave this presentation to the OAVT on December 19, 2011



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  • Horse holderJoint scrubberEquipment muleLow payLong hoursNo chance for career advancementRvt degree is wasted
  • High turnoverWasted educationCan’t earn a decent livingNo future
  • Do all non DVM jobsClient education/interactionLeverage techsAnesthesiaDentistryPhysicals before app’ts
  • Do all non DVM jobsClient education/interactionLeverage techsAnesthesiaDentistryPhysicals before app’ts
  • Wondered if this was what being an equine ambulatory technician meant. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for it?
  • Fantastic experience that further opened my eyes to the world of equine medicine and solidified my interest and passion for working with horses in the capacity of a technician.
  • I had a better idea of what I wanted and needed out of a job. I learnt that the job interview can serve as an opportunity for both parties to assess whether the other is a good match. I knew I liked the work, but would it be a good fit otherwise? I was not interested in facing the same challenges as I did with my previous equine tech job.
  • Was hired before I was an RVT, but they were prepared to invest in me knowing I would eventually become and RVT. My role was to be a technician in the mobile practice. I began learning how to use the MRI almost immediately. Completed the requirements of becoming an RVT and continued MRI training. Dr Pownall, being a farrier as well as a veterinarian, wanted to grow the podiatry department and took me on as the main technician in this area. In the spring of 2010 I was promoted to Head Technician which has expanded the scope of my job duties.
  • I am an example some one who was unhappy and dissatisfied with the more traditional equine ambulatory practice model and I’m finding my way in what Dr Pownall describes as the future of equine practice. Regardless of your current situation, don’t we all want to have a job that doesn’t feel like work?? We spend a lot of time at our jobs so I think it is important to be happy in your job and if you are happy at work, you generally are more productive. In my experience job satisfaction can come from being able to specialize, fine tune skills or be an expert. By feeling like you are important and have an impact on the way the practice is run. If you have a voice due to becoming more involved in practice wide duties then you likely have more control over your own path. Additionally, more appropriate delegation of duties will have you doing the things you went to school for not just lugging around equipment.
  • Self Analysis: Explore what you have to offer, how can you add value to the practice, to client and patients? What motivates you and what do you want out of the experience? Consider personalities. Your own personality and that of others, your coworkers. Personality of the practice owner. Can you have a conversation where you communicate your ideas? Think critically about your strengths and weakness’, and your interests. Culture: examine cultures, the behaviours and beliefs that drive action. Personal Culture: Are you interested in making changes and to what extent? Why would you? Practice culture: Is this even possible or am I alone here? How did the conversation go? Will this be adopted whole hartedly or forgotten? Likely somewhere in between the two ends of the spectrum. Client Culture: How will the clients feel when they see the roles shift and change? Will they adopt whole hartedly or resist change? Will they even notice? Resources: Is there time for you to dedicate to implementing these changes or to even do the brainstorming? Is there money to pay you for the time you spend on this or will you be doing this afterhours? Mentoring? Do you have help? What are you proposing to change and do you need someone to help you with it? What is your education? Do you have other skills you can integrate into your job, another degree? Do you need to further your education? Is there time? Is there money?
  • I am the kind of person that likes guidelines and rules, and doing the right thing. I like structure and knowing that things are done properly. To this day, my sisters tease me about always being the tattletale of the family, and wanting to keep everyone in line. Not always considered really attractive attributes to have, but I realize it’s the truth and try to make it work for me, not against me. I know this about myself and have found that I really enjoy being the on the joint health and safety committee as this allows me to use my natural tendencies and strengths to benefit the practice.
  • Link to MPES Blog page
  • MPES Facebook page
  • Patient: better patient care. Veterinarians are able to do what they are trained to do and what they do best, as are technicians. Everyone works to their strengths and areas of expertise and ultimately the patient benefits.Client: Enhanced client relationship, improved client communication. Clients will begin to feel more comfortable talking to you and asking you questions. Opportunities to share your knowledge will arise and when the client needs help, they will think to ask you. Some clients find it easier to talk to the technicians, or will ask technicians different questions or questions they would otherwise be embarrassed to share. Appropriate delegation of tasks means better use of time and resources = more efficient = better client experience. With the help of a technician, the client is not expected or required to participate in the actual appointment. They can focus on being the client, on what Is going on and how they feel about it, not on having to hold equipment or restrain their horse. It can be reassuring that there are professionals working together to help the horse.Veterinarian: Increase efficiancy, allows them to focus on their job and the task at hand. Generally their time is at a premium so any opportunity for them to share duties to free up some time is good. Can establish protocols with technicians and does not have to rely on barn staff or horse owner to help with the appointment or procedure.Other staff: More efficient. They know who to ask if they have a question and they don’t end up bothering the vets with questions that can be answered by technicians and vice versa. More resources for them when fielding client inquries. Share the work load.
  • Dentistry: work with vet: they give the sedation protocol, and check mouth.Place Catheters: Tildren, IV fluids, Sedation/AnesthesiaBandage Change: follow up care to laceration or surgical appointment, report finding to vet, help client care for horseAdminister Medications: client uncomfortable giving injections, RVT can administer them. Value added service: saves client money as tech is cheaper than having vet come out yet they are still getting trained professional care and service.
  • AAEVT offering advanced equine courses.

Opportunities in Equine Veterinary Practice for Technicians Opportunities in Equine Veterinary Practice for Technicians Presentation Transcript

  • Opportunities in Equine Practice for Veterinary Technicians
    Elise Wickett, RVT Mike Pownall, DVM
    McKee-Pownall Equine Services
  • Transition to a new future
    What’s wrong with the current model
    Give examples of a new model
    What are the opportunities
    How you can be part of the change
  • Let’s start at the beginning
  • What’s wrong with this picture?
  • Lessons from small animal
  • The MPES Way
    Non- DVM tasks
    Client Education
    Making app’t go as smooth as possible
    Special Projects
  • School- round one
    Equine Certificate
  • School – round two
    Diploma in Agriculture
  • Off to ride horses for a year!
  • School – round two and a half
    Finished Diploma in Agriculture
  • First job as equine technician
    What I loved…
    The horses
    The challenge of the tasks
    Opportunity to learn about and help people and their horses
    … and not so much
    The hours
    The lack of work-life balance(not having time for my own horse)
    Some days I felt like all I had to offer was the ability to carry equipment
  • So what happened next?
    Burnt out and unhappy
    Eventually returned to work
    A lot of self analysis
    Still something missing
  • School – round three
    Veterinary Technician Diploma
    Part time job working in research
  • The Externship!
  • General technician duties
    RVT designation
    Head Technician
  • Why am I telling you this?
    Get you thinking of potential opportunities and let you know where we see the opportunities
    Combat some of the challenges of being an equine ambulatory technician
  • Some things to consider
    Self Analysis
  • Some Ideas
    I like..
    English, journalism or have a strong writing background
    I can..
    Create a practice newsletter, write protocols or staff handbook, write a blog
  • MPES Blog Page
  • I like…
    I can…
    Become the toxic and poisonous plants expert
  • I like…
    Teaching and Mentoring
    I can…
    Develop client education initiatives
    Train staff
    Run student education programs
    Educate clients at appointments
  • I like…
    I can…
    Be the social media guru
  • Challenges
    Other staff
    Ambulatory Practice
  • How does this impact others?
    Veterinarian (non owner)
    Other staff(support staff, other technicians)
    Practice owner
  • Impact on MPES
    Quicker billing
    Better collections
    Fewer missed items
    Better customer compliance
    Better customer relationships
  • The bottom line
    Happy techs = happy clinic
    Less turnover
    Institutional memory
    Happier clients with familiar techs
  • Making your case
    $300,000 ave full time vet
    Decrease missed billing 5%= $15,000
    decrease AR = 2 hours/week $2000
    Less turnover = $30,000
    Increased efficiencies of 10% = 30,000
    Total benefit of $77,000
  • Key points
    Self analysis
    Practice analysis
    Have a plan
    Communicate your ideas
    Flexibility within your plan
    Be realistic
    Re-evaluate and reassess frequently
  • Tech Tasks
    Client education initiatives
    Laboratory duties: blood work, fecals, PRP and IRAP processing, plate and culture swabs, semen evaluation
    Artificial Insemination
    Stallion Semen Collection
    Place catheters
    Monitor anesthesia in field surgery situations
    Shockwave Therapy
    Laser Therapy
    Bandage Change
    Administer Medications
    Digital Pictures & Video
    Gait analysis
  • Future opportunities
    Fewer vets want to do equine
    Enhanced tech specialization
    Tech practitioners
  • Questions?
  • Contact Us