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10 things you need in your practice  

INSTAGRAM @alexandra.yaksich    LINKEDIN   
Alexandra Yaksich wears many hats: she is a veterinary technician, business development strategist at Oxilia, and kickboxer. She completed her undergraduate studies in Behavioral Neuroscience in 2012 with a special interest in biology and research. Her work during this time focused on mapping neural pathways of behavior via optogenetic fibers in dopaminergic pathways in the midbrain. She decided to move from the hard sciences into clinical veterinary work near the end of her undergraduate degree and fell in-love with the field. She has been working in the industry ever since. Alexandra is on a mission to dispel myths in the animal health industry and create solutions available to both clinic staff and pet owners. Follow her and her three fur-babies on Instagram and LinkedIn.

This article is not sponsored, it simply states the author’s opinions. 

This pandemic has been a strange time for everyone. Challenging to say the least. We were collectively forced to battle circumstances that were, at best, difficult to navigate, at worst, utterly scary. Prior to COVID-19, our quirky industry had been notoriously understaffed for very long, so much so, it might be hard to find someone who remembers what it’s like to have a full set of people in clinic! Add the pandemic, the boom of animal adoptions, and our already tired selves, we have certainly been taken for a ride this last year.

As the vaccines roll out and things move toward a new normal, as we are currently shaping it, perhaps we can take a moment to congratulate ourselves for the epic battles we have all been fighting. We all know how hard it’s been and what a time to finally indulge in some items that would make our working lives just that much better. After all, we deserve it!

I present to you 10 things I believe you need in your clinic:

1. A working, portable razor.

This one may sound obvious but hear me out, as a travelling technician, the number of clinics I have seen without this product boggles my mind! This is one of those items where you won’t know how much it will affect your life until you have one, then realize you cannot live without it. It’s nicer for the patients and with the corded razor there is guaranteed to be the inevitable struggle untying the long cable. This is truly an investment of your own time.

Many can be found on your distributor’s website and some clinics have found cheap Amazon alternatives that work nicely.

2. Frozen Lunches/Snack box

If you ever wanted to turn your workplace into a “unicorn” clinic, this is a sure-fire way to do it. We all know how crazy things can get in clinic and between whatever personal lives we have left, sometimes we just can’t get to or don’t have the time to do any meal prep. Preparation aside, we can almost never predict how our days will go and it’s not that uncommon to miss lunches because we’re so busy. Some practices have the brilliant idea of always keeping stock of food for the staff. They usually provide options from snack boxes full of granola bars and fruits, to fully stocked fridges with quick and easy-to-make lunches. Healthy choices that don’t have short expiry dates help us resist the fast-food orders. Financially and time-wise this small gesture can be easy to budget— a once-a-week grocery run of about $30 usually does the trick.

3. Flexi-Coil

All I need to say is “beep” and I know I have just made all the readers shudder and coil with annoyance. “Down occlusion” and “Air in line” are two phrases we would be happy to never have to hear ever again. Ever. Well, let me part the clouds and let some sunshine in, because this is going to make you very happy. It’s something I have only recently found out about, and it’s called the Flexi-Coil Swivel System. It’s essentially a coiled IV line that attaches at the top of the cage to give freedom of movement to the patient, without getting tangled or kinking their line. No more untangling patients. You’re welcome.

4. Digitized software

For the clinics who have not yet switched over to paperless, which I will admit after having done myself, it’s definitely a feat to take on. The benefits of having everything digitized is worth the effort. Imagine, no more physical writing or questionable stains on the paper files. Moreover, the efficiency with which this can be done now is truly outstanding and most companies who make digital software will help make the transition easier. Many are now stored on the “cloud” and can be accessed anywhere (though this could be a pro or a con, what it is is helpful). Further, it keeps the hospital cleaner, better organized, and overall more efficient. SOAPs can be written while reception checks the client out, patient histories are easy to access, and dare I say, legible! Prescription refills are easy to identify and communication is easy to log. No file will ever be lost.

 5. A purpose built body-bag – EUTHABAG

Aren’t we all past the point of using plastic bags? Not only do many of us agree, pet parents also do. Euthabag is a dignified body bag for post-euthanasia and used for cremation or burial. It is  designed by a veterinarian and the whole team is comprised of a vet-med family: vets, techs, assistants, and receptionists. The nice thing about this bag is that when families see it, they immediately place more trust in us, as it shows we provide excellent care during life and after. If children are present in a euthanasia appointment, they can colour on the bag and it provides a way of allowing them closure. They can give a personal touch to show them across the rainbow bridge. Adults can also colour and sign it. Compassion satisfaction for the win! Not only is the bag itself eco-friendly, but the company plants trees in North America in an effort to help animals have safe places to live.

6. Liver treats everywhere in the clinic!

I haven’t met many dogs that deny themselves some beef liver. Yum. Some clinics have them in jars all around the clinic and this has been particularly useful during curb-side. As soon as the dog enters the building, treats can be easily administered (unless they have allergies, of course). Some clinics have packaged treats with no designated space for them and putting your hand in the bag ends up getting the liver powder all over your skin. Gross. Jars are the key way to go here. As for our feline friends, any Temptation or liquid cat treat usually does the trick with our picky partners. They are often assumed to never eat treats in clinic, but I assure you with the right ones they do!

7. Purse and leash hooks

This is the best small detail I’ve seen in clinics. Have you ever been on the other side of the reception counter, trying to pay, then realize you are trying to loop your dog’s leash around your arm while scrambling for your wallet in the depths of your purse, while getting pulled back by your excited companion? It couldn’t be more awkward! Having hooks screwed into the outside of the reception counter is a great way to keep clients at ease. These small efforts go a long way by making their entire experience in the clinic a lot better. They’re also very useful for the staff. Especially when having to take a patient out for a walk and then realizing it’s raining so you need to grab your umbrella or coat, with nowhere to keep the patient. These small things can seem so frustrating. If every part of our day had a simple solution, we’d definitely be happier teams. A little hook on a wall can really make a big difference.

8. Sandbags or a V-tray for radiographs

Have you ever been expected to take a *perfect* VD view of the chest or abdomen while restraining the patient on a cold, flat, X-ray table? This is certainly no easy feat. In fact, it’s probably quite uncomfortable for the patient, never mind for the restrainers. A very nice solution to this problem is a V-shaped “tray,” which is not thoroughly radio-opaque that the patient can lay down in. Patients seem to resist less when they are placed in a tray because it keeps them stable. If a V-tray is not an option, sandbags or socks with rice in them can be a very good alternative to positioning your patient. This also puts us at less risk of radiation exposure as our hands aren’t too close to the beam.

9. Cytoprep Fix and Dry

This little contraption is a nice addition to any busy practice. Among the clinics that are constantly running cytologies or are a generally busy practice, this one is a treat. It’s a mini countertop device that will fix and dry your slides for you, so you no longer must wait it out, dab it with a Kim wipe, or stand there with a blow dryer. Add to that, no more lighters or soot on your slide. Heat fixing cells is the best way to ensure they adhere flat onto the slide and take the stain well and in a busy practice it may be convenient to use this little device. It can fix and dry five slides at a time, from urine to ear cytology. For the busy places, this might be the tool for you.

10. The tried-and-true Adaptil and Feliway

Every time I hear of Adaptil and Feliway, I cannot not think of the various memes online and laugh. If you haven’t seen them, search them up, I guarantee you will laugh! That being said, they’re a great tool for practice. I’ve seen some clinics use the diffuser in the cat room for their hospitalized patients. It’s a nice gesture and for some it really helps them get used to the hospital room and their fellow felines with them. As for Adaptil, many clients often ask about different ways they can calm their dog without using any medication. Aside from training and supplements, this can be a very useful addition to have on hand for clients to try with their furry companion.

The pandemic has kicked us all into overdrive over the course of the last year and sometimes there’s nothing like a little boost of a new shiny toy to get us excited about the field again. There are so many cool products, things to explore, and amazing companies to find. With a little curiosity and distraction, finding the tools to help your clinic function better can bring the team together and enjoy the tools you need to work efficiently. We all need a little positivity right now, and these are some fun ways to bring in a little joy back to work!

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