‘US Vet Techs Face Pandemic-Induced Stress’: Your Weekly Veterinary News Crunch 22 October 2020
The weekly rundown of veterinary news for the time-poor vet, presented by VetX International
US Vet Technicians Face Pandemic-Induced Stress
A study by AAHA has revealed that veterinary technicians are experiencing heightened levels of pandemic-induced stress. Work challenges include fewer teammates, varied work hours, the lack of clarity on “essential” designation, increased caseloads, and clients with limited financial resources. And that’s on top of euthanasias without owners present, shortages of supplies, and concern about transmitting COVID-19 or getting it themselves.
Sheena Davis, LVT, of Abingdon Square Veterinary Clinic in New York City said: “Within the first two weeks, all logic and organization went out the window,” she said. “We were all working in survival mode. There were times when all the cages were full of whining, barking dogs. Phone calls and angry owners were all coming down on us. I had a few moments when I felt overwhelmed and needed to step out of a ward of crying dogs to have a moment to cry for myself.”
Although veterinary technicians are thankful to be employed, they are having mood, energy, concentration, and sleep problems. Donna says anxiety emerges as she drives into her workplace parking lot. “I have to give myself a pep talk because I can feel the anxiety setting in,” she said. “Sometimes I start to shake. I have to take a few moments in my car to breathe deeply and tell myself that it’s OK to go in.”
Many say that they have less empathy or none at all. They feel disengaged when communicating with clients because of hostility, or because they feel rushed from one case to the next.
Hung Jury in Trial of Pensacola Vet Tech Accused of Poisoning Colleague
Zoa McIntyre is accused of trying to poison a co-worker at Megan’s Landing Animal Clinic, Florida in March 2018 by placing a barbiturate to treat dog seizures in the woman’s water bottle. The co-worker, Sharon Garner, sipped from the bottle and began to feel ill, eventually driving herself to the hospital.
Prosecutors argued in court that McIntyre’s actions were retaliation for an argument four days earlier, while the defense said it was a prank and McIntyre testified that she only placed a laxative in the water bottle.
At the trial, Assistant State Attorney Amy Shea showed the jury a video from the clinic’s security camera March 5, 2018, that showed Garner placing her water bottle on a counter in the employees’ common space and exiting the room, leaving McIntyre alone with the bottle.
“When Miss Garner steps out of the room, the defendant turns around, goes to Miss Garner’s water bottle, opens the bottle, puts something in the bottle, folds up whatever the napkin paper thing was, puts it in her pocket and goes back to work as if nothing ever happened,” Shea said in her opening statement. “The victim, Miss Garner, comes back in — and you’ll see all this, because it’s on video — and has no idea that that has happened.”
Vet Your Breasts Campaign Reminds Profession to Perform Life-Saving Checks
Breast Cancer Awareness month has helped to drive an initiative aimed at the veterinary profession specifically: Vet Your Breasts. Vet Anna Beber, from HeartVets in Gloucestershire, founded the Vet Your Breasts campaign after being diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.
At the centre of the Vet Your Breasts campaign is a poster featuring the eight main early signs of breast cancer, as well as the direct message to the vet profession: “Vet your breasts whilst changing your scrubs – you could save your life.”
More than 1,000 posters and stickers are already displayed in practices across the UK, as well as some reaching as far as Canada, New Zealand and Puerto Rico.
Miss Beber’s aim is to get the posters in every single veterinary workplace as a reminder to her colleagues to spend a few minutes each month prioritising their health.
Miss Beber said: “Everyone who works in or around the veterinary profession will know what an incredibly busy and fast-paced profession it is, with very little time to pause. We are notoriously terrible at putting ourselves first.
“I just basically want as many men and women as possible to be given the opportunity to consider what is normal for them and, if something has changed, to get checked out.”
Veterinary Leadership Standards Framework Launched in UK
The VMG has published its Leadership Standards Framework to support and promote strong leadership and management across the veterinary sector.
The main aims of the framework are to support the continuing professional development of veterinary leaders, to facilitate individuals and organisations in striving towards formal recognition for excellent leadership, and to acknowledge the variety of roles, styles and approaches contributing to excellent 21st century veterinary leadership and management.
VMG president Rich Casey said: “Routes to a leadership role in the veterinary sector are more diverse than ever, which brings opportunity for career advancement to a wider range of veterinary staff. However, many have had only basic training to equip them for their new responsibilities and, while some embrace the new demands on them, others can find the adjustment more difficult.
“By bringing these competencies together in the Leadership Standards Framework, we are giving leaders, managers and any team member wishing to achieve better practice outcomes, a route map for skills development and the delivery of 21st century leadership.”
For more on how VetX:Leaders could help you to achieve excellence in leadership, visit: https://vetxinternational.com/leaders/
Veterinarians in US Could Lead Sustainability Efforts
Dr. Jonna Mazet, executive director of the University of California-Davis One Health Institute and a professor of epidemiology and disease ecology at the UC-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is urging vets to be at the forefront of sustainability efforts.
“It is not just the animals we need to save, it is really ourselves,” Dr. Mazet said. “We need you, we need the veterinarians. You are leaders in your community; you are some of the most valued and respected scientific resources in your communities. … That trusted voice can help make science respected across our country and the globe so we can make preparations to keep the planet healthy.”
“We are uniquely able to alter our environment,” Dr. Mazet said. “It is really human actions—on this Earth—that are causing the majority of all disturbances and changes to our ecosystem. We can’t just think about the problems. We need to think about the drivers of these problems, like land use, climate change, economic development, globalization, energy extraction and use, and migration. How do we live the lifestyles we want, stay healthy, and protect biodiversity?”
Dr. Simon Doherty, senior vice president of the British Veterinary Association, sees links between sustainability and better health for humans, animals, and environments. He said: “If we can actually improve the workplace—promote sustainable lifestyles, promote good work-life balance, and promote good physical health and good mental health—hopefully, in time, we will also be able to improve the resilience and the retention of vets within the profession as well.”
Canadian Vet Clinic To Close After Unbearable Levels of Harassment
A Whitehorse veterinary clinic will be closing its doors at the end of the month after what the owner says is harassment that has made working conditions intolerable for staff.
The Copper Road Veterinary Clinic has been facing what veterinarian Marina Alpeza terms ‘harassment’, including having bricks thrown at the premises, clients demanding free services, and late cancellations or no-shows.
“We’ve been having lots of harassment at work to the point where our receptionists are in tears, we had flood after flood after flood at the clinic … we had a person, a former employee breaking in in the middle night (and take a cash box),” Alpeza said.
“… I’ve been practising for 35 years. I’ve never ever had to work in those conditions. I don’t want to put my staff under those conditions, I don’t want to hire people.”
While the clinic will continue to offer some services online or over the phone after it closes on 31 October 2020, it will not have a new physical location until at least spring 2021.
Tasmanian Devils Return to Mainland Australia – After 3,000 Years
A group of devils was recently released in Barrington Tops, a protected national park about 120 miles (200 kilometers) north of Sydney.
Tasmanian devils, the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial, have been long gone from most of the Australian continent, and until now the only remaining wild populations were on the island of Tasmania.
By clearing out dingos and reintroducing devils to Barrington Tops, conservationists hope to not only reestablish thriving wild populations of the iconic marsupials, but to also help protect other native species that are threatened by invasive predators.
“That Barrington Tops area has about 40 species that we know of that are in trouble,” GWC president Don Church said. “Our hope is that the presence of the devils will be an ecological solution, a contribution to addressing the main driver of extinction on the Australian continent, which is the presence of feral cats and foxes. We hope long-term that the presence of the devil on the landscape will help keep the numbers of those introduced species at bay, and it’ll be a natural, self-replicating solution to the problem.”
5 Practical Tips to Achieve a Positive Mindset
The physical and mental benefits of positive thinking have been demonstrated by multiple scientific studies. A positive mindset can give you more confidence, improve your mood, and even reduce the likelihood of developing conditions such as hypertension, depression and other stress-related disorders. Here are five tips for achieving that all-important positive mindset:
Start the day with a positive affirmation – even if it’s just looking in the mirror and saying ‘today will be a good day!’
Focus on the good things, however small – be self-aware and notice the small things, such as your colleague making you a cup of tea.
Turn failures into lessons – if something goes wrong, don’t shut down the possibility of improving. Turn them into learning experiences and keep going!
Focus on the present – most sources of negativity stem from a memory of a recent event or the exaggerated imagination of a potential future event. Stay in the present moment.
Find positive friends and mentors – when you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll hear positive outlooks, positive stories and positive affirmations. Their positive words will sink in and affect your own line of thinking.