Inside AAHA: October 2020

Adam Hechko, DVM, AAHA’s president-elect, talks about the importance of recognizing and utilizing veterinary technicians to their full potential. Plus, four courses you didn’t know were on AAHA Learning, social media images to help celebrate National Veterinary Technician Week, AAHA celebrates 25- and 50-year accredited practices, and Dear AAHA provides suggestions for marking National Veterinary Technician Week.

View from the Board

Celebrate Technicians!

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU STOPPED and personally thanked your technicians for the hard work and dedication they provide to your patients every day? As we enter October, have you considered the opportunities your technicians have to use their skills in your practice? I believe that credentialed technicians are critical to the care we give our patients each day. Through the pandemic, it has become even more clear that utilizing technicians and leveraging their skills to provide patient care is paramount to the success of any hospital.

But there is a second pandemic—a shortage of credentialed veterinary technicians throughout our profession—and, as stewards of this profession, it is our responsibility to identify the barriers to better care for our patients.

Veterinary technicians tend to leave the field for a variety of reasons. According to the Veterinary Nurse Initiative, technicians stated that their reasons for leaving include lack of respect from the public and veterinary professionals, low wages, frustration from lack of utilization of their skills, burnout, and compassion fatigue. As a profession, I think we can do much better for our teams and technicians to help prevent their hard work and education from being undervalued.

As we consider the numerous reasons that technicians leave, we can start to implement changes to help address their concerns. Some of these changes go beyond the walls of our practice and extend to national and state endeavors such as the Veterinary Nurse Initiative. Looking outside the box and structuring support for them by making workflow changes, utilizing assistants, providing support through employee-assistance programs, and offering opportunities for personal and professional growth can greatly improve job satisfaction and efficiency throughout the hospital.

These changes can help begin to address burnout and allow technicians to fully utilize the skills they possess. As a result, more patients can be helped by our teams, and as veterinarians we can use the additional time to focus on treating patients and bonding with clients.

I implore colleagues to consider what opportunities our patients are missing when we do not fully utilize the skills of our veterinary technicians. The next time a patient enters the hospital for care, consider what can be delegated to your team. When patient outcomes are successful, remember that many times it was your team that made it happen. When clients praise the care their pet has received, take a moment to let them know this care was possible because of the skills of credentialed professionals in your office.

Veterinary technicians are a vital part of the healthcare team. Supporting them through opportunities to utilize their skills while helping our patients lets them know how much our profession appreciates and respects their education and dedication to pets. This month, let’s all celebrate how amazing our technicians are!

Adam Hechko
Adam Hechko, DVM, is AAHA’s president-elect for 2020–2021. A proud graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and an avid Buckeye fan, Hechko earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 2006 following the completion of his undergraduate degree from the University of Findlay in 2002. Since 2006, Hechko has served as owner and medical director for North Royalton Animal Hospital, a four-doctor small-animal practice that includes a pet resort, daycare, and grooming in North Royalton, Ohio. Accredited in 2012 and named the AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year in 2015, the hospital hosts several community events each year, including a pet carnival fundraiser, a Christmas open house, and an Easter bone hunt. Each year, the practice also adopts a family in need for the holidays and offers regular pet-bereavement support groups and pet cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first-aid classes.

4 Courses You Didn’t Know Were on AAHA Learning

The Forensic Process for Veterinarians

CE hours: 16.0

This course engages learners in authentic case studies and interactive exercises to ensure deeper understanding of what it means to participate in legal proceedings involving animal abuse and neglect.


Basics of Supportive Care During Sedation
and General Anesthesia

CE hours: 1.0

This course covers variables to be monitored before and during surgery, with differentials for problem parameters to help develop troubleshooting skills for all patients.


Clinical Communication Skills in
Veterinary Practice

CE hours: 1.0

Participants will gain a clear understanding of the skills needed to develop a collaborative style of communication that improves client-veterinarian or client-tech relationships, leading to improved outcomes for patients and higher client-retention rates.


Hypoglycemia: Gimme Some Sugar!

CE hours: 0.5

Attendees will learn clinical signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and the systematic approach needed to diagnose and treat it in the small-animal patient.



Show Your Veterinary Technicians the Love!

National Veterinary Technician Week is October 11–17, and AAHA has free shareable images available in the Publicity Toolbox to help you thank your technicians on your social media channels.




AAHA-Accredited Practices Celebrate 25th and 50th Anniversaries

At a recent awards breakfast held virtually at Connexity 2020, we were thrilled to honor 82 veterinary practices that are celebrating their 25th anniversary of AAHA accreditation, and 27 practices that have reached the 50-year mark!





Dear AAHA,

Our team has worked especially hard this year. We would love to celebrate our technicians in a significant way during National Veterinary Technician Week. Any suggestions?

—Loving Vet Techs in Louisville

Dear Loving,

We agree that veterinary technicians deserve a special shout-out for how they’ve worked on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic! You might support professional growth by gifting your techs a CE program they would enjoy. Another great way to celebrate is to invest in a healthy culture for the whole practice. AAHA’s Culture Initiative has many free resources to help you begin thinking about how your team can build a long-lasting, positive, supportive work environment. And if all else fails, there’s always baked goods. We wish you the best in your celebration—and tell your vet techs we love them, too!

—AAHA’s Member Experience Team

Have a question you’d like AAHA to answer? Email us at [email protected].

AAHA Meetings and Events

AAHA is closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19 and we will continue to follow recommended public health guidelines leading up to all scheduled AAHA events.

Connexity by AAHA

Virtual | September 30–October 3

AAHA Guide to Safeguarding Controlled Substances
available from AAHA Press!

December 14

Veterinary Management Institute

Virtual | November 19–21


Register for a learning program and learn more about AAHA’s upcoming events.

Photo credits: ©, ©, FatCamera/E+/Getty Images, tussik13/iStock/Getty Images Plus



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