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.
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
- 3D Joint Anatomy in Dogs
Be a Part of he Community
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. We enjoy monthly live presentations from experts in the field, who discuss selected topics and answer questions from members.
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 people 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 constantly 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, to watch informative videos on exercises, procedures and techniques, and to 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.
Also, 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 24-28 April 2019, at Wyndham Hamilton Park Hotel, in New Jersey.
The IAVRPT conference is a more formal conference, with lectures, wetlabs and round table discussions led by top practitioners.
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.
Podcasts are a great way to learn while on the go. In 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.
Don’t forget about Yourself
Lastly, don’t forget to pay attention to your own physical and mental health in those 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.
And always, always project an air of confidence and friendliness; clients will naturally want to return to a therapist who is confident, pleasant and welcoming.