Stepping out of university and into the world of work is exciting, nerve-wracking and demanding. There in front of you sits your first client and (usually) their dog, both of whom treat you as if you’ve been doing this forever and know everything. You want to appear calm and collected, to project an air of professionalism, and yet inwardly you may be feeling so very different!
Rest assured, we’ve all been there. You will quickly grow into the knowledgeable, helpful professional you are – especially if you follow these tips to gain knowledge and confidence throughout your career.
There are numerous ways in which you can fast-track your confidence and knowledge, and gain the support that you need within the veterinary rehabilitation industry to be the best Vetrehabber that you can be. We will share some of our favourite resources with you here, to help you achieve your goals as a professional!
Read the Books!
Firstly, arm yourself with the necessary textbooks. This will allow you to read up on the conditions you are going to see before you see them, as well as the treatment protocols that are recommended. Referring back to your textbooks on a regular basis will help you to remember the basics and ensure you stay on the right path with your treatment protocols. No matter how many times you read them, you will always learn something new!
Onlinepethealth Small Animal Members recommend:
- Canine Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, second edition: Millis and Levine
- Animal Physiotherapy: McGowan, Goff and Stubbs
- Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation: Zink and Van Dyke
- Dogs in Motion: Martin S Fischer and Karin E Lilje
- The Dog Anatomy Workbook: Gardiner and Raynor
- Palpation and Assessment in Manual Therapy: Cambron
- Physical Rehabilitation for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses: Goldberg and Tomlinson
- Pain Management for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses: Goldberg and Shaffran
- Essential Facts of Physiotherapy in Dogs and Cats –Rehabilitation and Pain Management: Bockstahler, Levine and Millis
- Multimodal Management of Canine Osteoarthritis: Fox and Millis
- Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation: Zink and Van Dyke
- Canine Medical Massage: Techniques and Clinical Applications: Robinson and Sheets
- 3D Joint Anatomy in Dogs
- ABC’s of the Horse by Pauli Gronberg
- Anatomy of the Horse by Klaus Budras
- MTC Kinesiotaping for Horses
- MTC Kinesiotaping for dogs
- Equine Locomotion by Hilary Clayton and Willem Back
- Adams and Stashack’s Lameness in Horses
This list is far from exhaustive, but will give you a great place to start!
Join a Supportive Community for Vetrehabbers
Secondly, be part of a community of rehab therapists, so that you have people you can turn to for answers when you’re presented with challenging cases. Even if you start out as a member of an established practice, you will want to extend your knowledge community beyond the four walls of the practice. We often need more than a second opinion – we need a third, fourth and fifth opinion, for a full and rounded understanding of a topic.
The rehabilitation community is incredibly open and supportive, and you will find groups on Facebook, Yahoo, and probably a local or regional WhatsApp group, too.
Join our Professional Vet Rehab Therapists Facebook groups: Small Animal Vetrehabbers, Equine Vetrehabbers, Hydro Vetrehabbers, and Business Vetrehabbers.
Also ask to join the Vet Rehab Yahoo email list, stay connected to your college or university Whatsapp group, and keep asking questions! You will be surprised at how willing and happy Vetrehabbers are to support others in the profession.
Thirdly, stay abreast of knowledge in the field through formal continuing education specific to Veterinary Rehabilitation. We should never stop learning and growing, particularly in a field as exciting and expanding as Veterinary Rehabilitation. There are many ways in which we can remain ever learning through formal channels:
It is easiest to start online, with a platform such as Onlinepethealth.
These platforms allow you to access lectures by international speakers on a broad range of topics, watch informative videos on exercises, procedures and techniques, and brush up on both the therapy and the business side of things through the blog. You’ll have access to podcasts by international experts, all from the screen of your laptop or iPad, so that you get a world-class educational experience without having to leave home.
Where possible, attend short courses and live conferences, both in your area and internationally, if you can afford it. Some international conferences to look out for include the STAAR, IAVRPT and VEPRA conferences.
STAAR is a hands-on, practical conference, with training on live dogs in small interactive groups. This allows learning to take place at a deeper and more practical level. The next STAAR will be held September 27-30, 2023, in Parsippany, New Jersey, US.
The IAVRPT conference is a more formal conference, with lectures, wetlabs and round table discussions led by top practitioners. The next IAVRPT conference will be held in Cape Town, South Africa.
VEPRA is a European conference presenting talks by a great variety of top international speakers.
Don’t forget that your professional association or registration body can be a great resource; keep in touch with them for information on short courses or conferences in your area.
Virtual conferences are becoming more and more popular, enabling attendees to stay home while learning from the best and networking with colleagues from all over the world. They cut out the cost of travelling and prevent the hassle of having to take time off from a growing practice. Onlinepethealth hosts an annual conference every year, the Vet Rehab Summit.
Keep up with the Research
When we stop learning, we effectively go backwards. Take the time to read research on a regular basis. Research done on modalities and treatment techniques can help you fine-tune and improve your effectiveness, and research into specific conditions and treatment protocols will help you to stay on top of what works and what does not.
I have found Science Direct a good place to start for free articles. Also try Wiley Online Library, where you will have access to a library of books and articles. We also share monthly Research Refresh summaries to Onlinepethealth members, through the members portal, where we summarise and present a short video on a research article that is relevant to our industry.
Podcasts are a great way to learn while on the go. On The Veterinary Rehabilitation Podcast Dr Megan Kelly interviews experts from around the world about relevant modalities, supplements, techniques and more, so that you can stay up to date with the newest developments in the industry. You can access The Veterinary Rehabilitation Podcast on iTunes or stitcher for android.
The K9PT Academy Podcast: Business lessons for canine rehab therapists is another great podcast for you to follow, especially if you are starting your own business.
Don’t forget about Yourself
Lastly, don’t forget to pay attention to your own physical and mental health in these early months. Everything is new; you’re seeing patients all day, growing your practice, dealing with staff, making difficult decisions and trying to stay educated at the same time. It’s a lot.
You’ll need help with the business side of things and you’ll need to make time for balance in your life so that you don’t become overwhelmed. Being connected helps; so does exercise, time with family, and rest. In order to be calm, confident and compassionate when you are with your clients, you need to take care of yourself.
Advice from Vetrehabbers
Vets are human! Lol! Not scary aliens! write and send those reports and don’t stress about it. Phone them when needed too, they do appreciate it! Donna Sidebotham
Don’t expect to know everything & learn what imposter moments/syndrome is! Treat the dog in front of you & not the diagnosis. Help empower the owner so they understand & can help make decisions. Expect to learn new things every day and these things change too! Best job in the world. Harriet Kitcat