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3 Ways to Take the Pain Out of Pain Management

No veterinarian or veterinary technician wants their patients to be in pain, so we've put together 3 ways to improve pain management in your practice. 

Many people assume that animals will physically or audibly show when they’re in pain. The truth is that animals have adapted to hide their pain as much as possible to avoid becoming liable to attack by predators or even their own kind. This makes pain management a little trickier, but there are simple steps veterinarians and veterinary technicians can take to up the pain management game in their practices.

Licensed veterinary technician Kristen Cooley, BA, CVT, VTS (Anesthesia/Analgesia), talks to Dr. Natalie Marks about how veterinary technicians especially—the ones who spend the most time treating the patients and therefore know them best—can make a difference and bring better pain management practices to their work.

In the Quick Cup of Knowledge video “Pain Management,” Cooley says that motivated and passionate veterinarians and veterinary technicians who thirst for knowledge have many resources and avenues available to them, and they can take what they learn back to their clinics to propose improvements in pain management. 

#1 Education

The most important thing in stepping up pain management in your practice is making the effort to educate yourself—reading books and receiving training. Absorb all the knowledge you can, but there is no substitute for hands-on experience.

Cooley teaches at WVC’s Veterinary Technician Symposium where technicians are empowered with the tools and skills necessary to improve pain management and provide better care to their patients. Just becoming familiar with the physiology of pain is extremely helpful in knowing how to help them. Cooley says, "Once you understand how pain travels through the body, then you understand how to best treat it."

#2 Helpful Resources

No matter if you are a veterinarian looking to improve your practice or a veterinary technician interested in enhancing patient care, a great resource Cooley recommends is the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM). The IVAPM is at the cutting edge of all things pain management, and they offer tools that guide through the proper steps in becoming a pain champion.

Not only are there many different drugs being utilized for pain management, but there are various pain measuring systems. Resources such as IVAPM can help you determine the best choices for your practice and start implementing them, with sheets and videos that explain the purpose and train your team. 

#3 Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Local anesthesia tends to be something many practices are tentative to use, according to Cooley, for fear of giving a toxic dose. It is, however, one of the most effective tools there are in pain management. Cooley argues that every drug that a veterinary practice uses has a toxic dose, but it shouldn't be a reason to avoid it. As long as we know what that toxic dose is, it is easy to stay below it. She expresses her opinion that practices sometimes need to step outside their comfort zone to improve patient care. 

Being a veterinary technician herself, Cooley also speaks to the fear technicians sometimes have stepping outside their comfort zone in order to grow in their career. Doing the same things every day leaves little room for growth. Now that technicians can specialize in something they're passionate about that specialized education is well worth the extra effort.   

To hear more from a veterinary technician who specializes in anesthesia, check out our interview with Tasha McNerny, the founder of the group Veterinary Anesthesia Nerds, and information about the Veterinary Anesthesia Nerds Symposium.

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Topics: Veterinary, WVC, 2019, CE, Quick Cup of Knowledge, Continuing Education, WVC Academy, Veterinary Anesthesia Nerds, Pain Management, Kristen Cooley, Veterinarian, Veterinary Technician, Anesthesia

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