Name: Rachel Genore-Roche, RVT
Job: Head Large Animal RVT at Heartland Animal Hospital & Veterinary Services.
Q&A with Rachel
OAVT: Where did you go to school for your Veterinary Technology program? And why did you decide to take a RVT program?
Rachel: I graduated from the Seneca College Veterinary Technology Program in 2014. I worked in small animal practice as an assistant from the age of 15 for about 8 years, and decided I wanted to learn more, do more, and be more involved in veterinary medicine.
OAVT: What is a typical day like for you as Head Large Animal RVT at Heartland Animal Hospital?
Rachel: Much of my job is disbudding calves and assessing calf health and welfare. I manage the disbudding on about 80 of our clients’ herds and travel between them every month. We perform a cornual block (freezing), administer pain medication and disbud via hot iron cautery.
I also spend time vaccinating calves, cows and heifers, assisting our veterinarians with Herd Health visits while they perform pregnancy checks, drawing blood samples from calves to monitor health and colostrum management, blood samples from cows for various research studies, and collecting blood samples from sheep and goats for herd monitoring for various disease in sheep and goats. I have involvement in milk quality by collecting milk samples for bacterial growth and culture, monitoring somatic cell counts and detecting antimicrobials. I also assist with on-farm equine surgeries for anesthetic monitoring (geldings, enucleations), radiography, and calf surgeries and procedures (hernia repair, fracture stabilization).
I use my role as opportunity to advocate for the health and welfare of dairy calves. When I go on a farm, I take a look at all the calves in the barn and look for any signs of disease or injury. I also make sure to note growth, plane of nutrition, cleanliness, crowding, and air quality. This is information that I can share with the producer or report to the herd veterinarian to ensure these animals are being cared for and treated well. I have also been involved with my clinic’s proAction producer training and education, which is a national quality assurance program that sets out guidelines for animal care, livestock traceability and milk quality in Canada.
OAVT: What advice would you give to students and new RVTs who want to try their hand working in the large animal sector?
out to RVTs and veterinarians in the field. Ask to ride with them for a day and
show you what a typical day is like, and ask all the questions when you do. I
have had many students choose to do their externships with me.
Do not be
intimidated if you are not from a farm or have an agriculture background. I
apply much of my small animal skill set, background and knowledge to my work
What can an RVT do to encourage their employer to fully use their skills? Is
there still a “path to be carved” for RVTs working in large animal to be better
utilized in the field?
Rachel: I feel as though I have demonstrated to my employers my passion for animal care and welfare. They rely on me to inform them if there is concern about calf welfare on a farm, and ask me to follow up on certain cases they have seen.
It is always helpful to show initiative, bring new ideas to the table, and offer your assistance when there is something you feel you can offer. RVTs have such a wide variety of skills, and can only further their abilities by practicing.
The role of RVTs in food animal medicine is still fairly novel. There are a lot of opportunities for RVTs in clinics as the role develops and the dairy industry advances.
OAVT: What important qualities and skills do RVTs bring to large animal medicine? What can an RVT bring to the role that “uncredentialed” workers couldn’t?
use of medications on-farm and in food producing animals is of growing concern
to the public. RVTs are familiar with how these medications are used, their
mode of action, and what precautions are needed. Antimicrobial use is of
particular concern, and we are trained in ensuring they are being used
subtle signs of illness is an important part of my job. Veterinary medical
professionals are trained to identify signs of disease, injury and pain. I use
my skills and knowledge to decide if a calf is healthy enough to undergo the
disbudding procedure to prevent further illness or complications.
is also an important part of a large animal RVT’s role. Knowledge of how
disease can be spread and ensuring proper cleanliness protocols in very
important to keep calves healthy.