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Veterinarian Technician January 2007 (Vol 28, No 1) Focus: Basic Skills

On the Cover: "A Talk with Harold Davis, Jr., BA, RVT, VTS (ECC, Anesthesia)"

by Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, PHR

    Harold Davis, Jr., BA, RVT, VTS (ECC, Anesthesia), is known and respected by veterinarians and technicians alike for his professional knowledge and experience. He is the first technician ever to hold the president-elect position of the Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Society (VECCS), and his involvement with the National Conference of Veterinary Technician Specialty Academies (NCVTSA) has made him familiar to colleagues from all branches of veterinary medicine, not just the world of emergency and critical care. Yet even those who have seen him lecture, read his publications, and know his reputation in the profession may be surprised to learn that Harold's interest in medicine extends to the human realm as well. In a recent interview, Harold talked about his membership in human nursing societies, his role in realizing the NCVTSA, and his recent election to the VECCS board of directors. He also revealed his passion for photography and his personal quest to capture the perfect photograph of a famous Australian landmark.

    Congratulations on being voted president-elect of VECCS for 2006-2008. What does this achievement mean to you?

    I am humbled and honored to be elected. My involvement with VECCS goes back to before there were technician specialty academies. I felt that joining VECCS was important be­cause involvement in any professional organization gives you the opportunity to network with people who share your interests and understand your position and your career. You learn that you're not alone and that others have had experiences similar to yours. Also, VECCS is special because it embraces the true meaning of "society": It is an organization that is open to anyone involved or interested in emergency and critical care — veterinarians, technicians, and staff. It truly reflects the team effort involved in veterinary medicine.

    Previously, I served as member-at-large and treasurer of VECCS. Now, as president-elect, I have the opportunity to be the spokesperson for a society made up of both veterinarians and veterinary technicians. What better way to demonstrate the team approach to emergency and critical care than having a nonveterinarian as the president of such an organization? I would en­courage more technicians to pursue leadership roles in professional societies. Raising the level of our involvement is a great way for technicians to advance our profession.

    You've already played some key roles in advancing the veterinary technology profession. Tell us about them.

    In 1992, I was fortunate enough to be part of a group within VECCS that began working with NAVTA to develop specialty certification for emer­gency and critical care technicians. These first steps eventually resulted in the provisional recognition of the Academy of Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Technicians (AVECCT) in 1996. When I was contacted to join the organizing committee of the Academy of Veterinary Technician Anesthetists, I was honored to be able to provide assistance and insight into the process.

    How do you feel about the ongoing expansion of technician specialty academies?

    I'm ecstatic! Veterinary technology is a young profession in the grand scheme of things. It began in the 1960s, and 40+ years is not a long history compared with the profession of nursing in human medicine. We've come a long way in a short period of time. The continued development of professional organizations is opening up new doors for technicians, and the more opportunities we have, the better our profession is going to be overall. When AVECCT started, we had no idea where it would go, but it just took off. Today, technicians continue to be interested in specializing, and that's exciting!

    you've joined professional organizations in human medicine. Why?

    I discovered that they accept veterinary medical personnel as members, and I saw it as a great way to obtain their journals and keep abreast of continuing education opportunities. As a result, I have been a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses for 10 years, and I am a former member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine. I feel that involvement in the human side of medicine can enhance what we do in veterinary medicine. It is rewarding to go to a human nursing event and not only find that I can hold my own but also bring back useful ideas to apply to our practice.

    What do you find are the main similarities and differences between the two fields?

    At the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital of UC Davis, we manage our patients in many of the same ways they do in human medicine, such as long-term management of ventilator patients and placement of special catheters for hemodynamic monitoring. In fact, when I attend continuing education conferences for human medicine and talk to physicians and nurses there, they are always pleasantly surprised at the similarities in the care we provide and the equipment we use, and they have a lot of questions for me. One of the differences between human and animal medicine is the availability of third-party insurance. I am hopeful that the expansion of pet insurance will help provide more medical options for pet owners.

    Speaking of conferences, how did your vision of NCVTSA evolve into reality?

    As the specialty academies evolved, it became a dream of mine to have them all come together in one place. I be­lieve that it is important for technicians to learn from each other, and I wanted to give technicians the opportunity to receive crossover training between specialties during the event. When I shared my vision with Aggie Kiefer, LVT, who was then Editor in Chief of Veterinary Technician, and Derrick Kraemer, president of Veterinary Learning Systems [publisher of Veterinary Technician], they supported the idea.

    In 2005, with the support and collaboration of AAHA, the dream became reality — a meeting planned by technicians, for technicians. I'm pleased to say that it has been well received, and I'm excited that we will have a fourth academy joining us this year, the Academy of Internal Medicine Veterinary Technicians (AIMVT).

    What's the biggest challenge of recreating this conference every year?

    It is difficult to pick topics that will meet the needs of the attendees each year. The topics have to be practical but at the same time ad­vanced. We work hard to ensure that the topics and the speakers will stimulate growth in the attendees' thinking and their approach to patient care.

    You are a natural in front of an audience. Was it easy for you to begin lecturing?

    Before I spoke at my first event, I wouldn't even consider being a room moderator for UC Davis events. I said no way, no how, would I get out on stage in front of people! Then, with the encouragement of my colleagues and the help of my mentor, Dr. Steve Haskins, I became the solo technician presenter at an event in 1989 and was bit by the public speaking bug. I enjoy the challenge of presenting information in such a way that everyone in the audience, no matter what their level of experience, will learn something pertinent that they can take away with them.

    You work so hard for others. What do you do for fun?

    When I have time, I like to travel and take photos. I've been interested in photography for more than 30 years, and my ambition is to get the perfect picture of the Sydney Opera House. I have tried three times already, and I plan to return to Australia to try again.

    What is your dream for the veterinary technology profession in the next 5 to 10 years?

    Although it may be controversial, my dream is to see veterinary technicians become more independent and gain recognition similar to that of the physician assistant or nurse practitioner in hu­man medicine. I was appointed by former California governor George Deukmejian to serve on the California RVT Examining Committee, where I served a record 15 years. Now, California is working on redefining what technicians can and cannot do, and it is pretty fascinating to see what people think. The main thing to remember is that we are all on the same team with the same common goal, which is to provide safe, high-quality care to our patients.

    What's your advice for new technicians?

    Remember that continuing education is important. In order to enhance your own professional growth, knowledge is the key. I also encourage all technicians to use their critical thinking skills — know why you do what you do. Don't settle. You can always reach to achieve your goals and dreams.

    NEXT: Tech Tips (January 2007)
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