What Moves You?
Column | Opinion
Ann Wortinger, BIS, LVT, VTS (ECC, SAIM, Nutrition) It is obvious from my string of initials that I love to learn. For each of my specialty certifications, I am required to do 60 hours of continuing education (CE) every 5 years or, on average, 12 hours every year. That is 36 hours per year just for my specialty certifications. In 2019, that number will go up when I renew my license under Michigan’s new CE requirements.

Education!

Veterinary technicians are the heart of veterinary medicine. We are passionate and dedicated, and we each have a story to tell. Today’s Veterinary Technician wants to hear yours!

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Ann Wortinger, BIS, LVT, VTS (ECC, SAIM, Nutrition)

It is obvious from my string of initials that I love to learn. For each of my specialty certifications, I am required to do 60 hours of continuing education (CE) every 5 years or, on average, 12 hours every year. That is 36 hours per year just for my specialty certifications. In 2019, that number will go up when I renew my license under Michigan’s new CE requirements.

While that may seem daunting, I love it, and I love seeing how many different ways I can earn my credits. Some of the hours will obviously from on-site lectures at conferences, while others will be from online instruction or RACE-approved articles in journals like this one. The most enjoyable way for me is mentoring new VTS candidates. I mentor for all 3 specialties and am proud to say that I have successfully mentored over 18 fellow VTSs to their specialty certification. I also love to teach!

Our education as veterinary technicians usually begins in college in our veterinary technology programs, but please do not let it end there. Believe me, the sum total of all knowledge is not conferred on you when you pass the VTNE! When I think of how much veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing have changed since I graduated 34 years ago, it is astounding.

For me, the best way to stay engaged in the field has been through learning. When I was in college, organic chemistry blew me out of the water. If not for my lab partners, I would never have passed. But when I started getting interested in nutrition, it all began to make sense. I’m sure many of you have found that if you can see the practical application of a piece of knowledge, it helps to put all the pieces in the right places.

For example, do you know what the difference is between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and why they are both essential fatty acids, but omega 9 is not? I do, and it isn’t easy, but it is fascinating. Nutrition is all about organic chemistry, from provision of nutrients to the body for essential functions to maintenance of acid-base balance, growth, and reproduction. It’s all chemistry!

To help stay engaged in the field, look around you. What excites you, what makes you happy, what keeps you going? When you look at the 15 NAVTA-approved specialties, none of them are covered to any extent in veterinary technology programs. Every one of the veterinary technicians who had the vision to form an organizing committee, submit an application, or sit for an examination did it on their own. They determined what they needed to learn and devised ways to learn and to perfect their skills. There were no semester tests, no GPA to maintain, and no diploma at the end, although you do get an awesome certificate when you pass your specialty exam! (And a pin that you should wear with pride.)

Many of us are lucky enough to work with veterinarians who push us to learn and who encourage us to reach beyond our comfort level. Sometimes, we are the ones who are pushing and encouraging others. If you are bored or unhappy with your job, you are the only one who can change it. Find your passion, enjoy the ride to learning, and teach what you know!