National speaker in the veterinary technician industry Valarie Adams provided an educational workshop, “Dancing at ‘The Bridge: A Kitchen Table Discussion of Love, Life and the Pursuit of a Good Death’ at Globe University-Green Bay to over a dozen area veterinary professionals. Although just about everyone in the room shed a few tears throughout the experience, they were positive tears and offered valuable insight into a topic that most don’t feel comfortable sometimes even discussing: end of life.
One of the questions she posed is to “Think about things like ‘how do you want to live?’ How would you want your pet to live?’”
Adams provided a wonderful presentation that discussed the differences between palliative care and hospice and really challenged participants to think about the why and how of how they handle things. She provided case studies to illustrate her points and connected with the participants on issues they face every day on the job.
Interestingly enough, Val shared that studies have shown that human beings toward the end of cancer in good palliative care can actually live longer than those who are constantly seeking a cure. Adams also shared, “Pets in hospice have stayed as little as 11 hours to as long as nine months”.
Pets are considered family members, pampered and loved unconditionally, Adams shared. “When our pets are eating better nutritionally than we are (among other things), why would we drop the ball when thinking about their end of life care?”
Jennie Wertel, vet tech program chair, shared some of the insight she learned from the workshop, “Approaching the situation a bit differently can make the biggest difference and ‘bridge’ the gap between our care staff and pet families.”
After the workshop was done, I got the opportunity to speak with one of the participants, Kathleen Nehring, who works at the Wolf River Veterinary Clinic in New London as a receptionist and a manager.
Why did you choose to come out today?
“Euthanasia is a passion of mine. I believe that every pet should have a good death, and I always want to be an advocate for all of my patients. I develop relationships with them all the way from puppyhood through adulthood and death,” Nehring said.
What was her greatest take-away? “I am actually capable of being a leader in my clinic and promoting hospice and palliative care.”
Though Val has had experience providing hospice care, more recently she has focused her attention on being an advocate for hospice care and promoting individuals to think about the service options we can provide to clients during this difficult time. Learn more about Val’s organization.