Veterinary technicians are required to be flexible and efficient; these are skills that make them integral parts of the veterinary team. Since I am now in my third-year as a veterinary technician I am expected to preform surgical tasks in the same manner as a seasoned veterinary technician with minimal intervention from the instructors. Theory is over; now it is time for the practical.
Each surgery class we follow a protocol created by our teacher, the veterinarian, and control a team of 2-3 students. The leader, or anesthetist, of the group must delegate all tasks that she/he cannot do himself during the surgery in order to be efficient. Multitasking is a great skill in this aspect. I might be in the process of checking for leaks after an endotracheal intubation, but at the same time I am delegating my teammates to set up the monitoring equipment.
In addition, I need to emphasize how important communication is in performing these surgery protocols. As the anesthetist you might be delegating tasks, but it is important to check in on your teammates, to make sure they are comfortable doing said tasks, whether they have any questions, or whether you were not clear enough on your delegation. Also, everyone might already know the protocol, but it is also good to say what you are doing to each other, and say what steps are next. Communication is key because there is an animal’s life at stake and mistakes can be fatal.
During out protocols when we hand over the anesthesia monitoring sheet to one of our teammates, we are encouraged to ask them to notify the anesthetist when values such as heart rate or respiratory rate drop to a certain value, and we say this. By repeating and communicating the values of the vital signs we are also learning them. So that if ever we are in a situation where there is emergency and the values drop, we will know right away because during every surgery protocol we go over the values.
Communication like this when doing surgery protocols is the key to efficacy. This may seem like an obvious thing; however, it is very easy during surgery to become quiet and just focus on what you are doing at that moment and create a bubble of isolation around yourself, but DON’T! Talk to each other. Say what you are doing when you start a task. Ask each other if you are all okay, if everyone is comfortable. Ask what tasks you can do next. Say out loud if there is a change in the vital signs. Say when the animal is connected to the oxygen. Say when you are bagging the animal. Announce when you are administering drugs.
Many things happen during a surgery. If you are the anesthetist there is a lot of things to think about there is a lot of things to do and your brain is constantly multitasking. However, make that job easier by delegating the tasks. You cannot control the situation, nor can you work as a team if you do not communicate. Become the most efficient, flexible, and skilled multitasking veterinarian technician through communication. Surgeries can become much less stressful if everyone is on the same page.