RVT Spotlight of the Month – August 2021

August 3, 2021

Melissa Brighton, R.V.T.

Business Development Executive
BEST Safety Training and Consulting Ltd.
CPO Approved Training Provider
Office: 226-777-7385 ext. 205

Where did you go to school and what made you decide to take a Veterinary Technology program? I went to School at Ridgetown College. I decided to become an RVT after taking a high school co-op program, and spending time in a clinic during high school. I have always had a strong love and passion for animals, and while in high school also developed a love for science. After taking the co-op program, it was a great fit.

What is your current job(s)? When did you start it? What services do you offer? I am currently working for BEST Safety Training & Consulting Ltd. In St. Thomas ONT. This is a position I began only a month ago, but right away recognized the huge need for proper Health & Safety training in Veterinary Medicine. In previous clinics I didn’t even know who the Health & Safety Representative was. Once I started here, I learned that every company with 6-19 employees are legislated to have 1 Health & Safety Representative (selected by the workers), and companies with over 20 employees are required to have at least 2 certified Joint Health & Safety Committee members (1 worker and 1 management or supervisor). BEST offers not only Joint Health and Safety Training, WHIMIS, Workplace Violence & Harassment, First Aid & CPR (amongst over 1000 different courses!), but also specialized courses for our industry!  Autoclave safety training, X-ray safety training, Biohazardous handling & waste, compressed air & gas training, bloodborne pathogens, airborne diseases, back protection while lifting, and even dog bite training are some of the training courses that Veterinary Professionals would greatly benefit from. In my 16 years in clinical practice, I had never seen these courses introduced to the employees, so I was excited to get the news out to our industry! One of the biggest challenges our industry faces is Mental Health, which has touched most of the RVT’s I know in some form or another. When I came on board at BEST Safety Training, I was so pleased to see courses like Psychological Health & Safety training, and Resilience & Stress Management training being offered, as these are things our industry needs to take more seriously and offer to ALL workers. We are very often in high stress situations and environments, and when I saw these available, it really highlighted a need in our industry and an area we can really improve upon.

How did you get into the field of safety? After being in the clinical field for 16 years and working in Small Animal, Large Animal, Shelter and Mobile clinic environments, this opportunity provided me something completely new and different.

What is a typical day like for you at work? I research different industries and their Health & Safety needs. I speak to companies across Ontario to find out how we can best service them for Health & Safety Training. I bring awareness to the over 1000 different training courses we offer online that most industries, like ours as RVT’s, are not even aware exist. This includes small companies, all the way to multi-location and franchise companies. I host zoom meetings to help people learn about the Health & Safety Training that is relevant in their industry, and how I can meet their needs. We also have an office mascot ‘Toast’ (Corgi) who spends time with us and keeps everyone smiling and on their toes!

What is your favourite part about your job? As an RVT, the drive to help and serve never leaves us. Even in this new industry, the most rewarding part is knowing I am making a difference. Keeping people informed and safe so that we can all have our loved ones with us as long as possible is what makes this line of work so important.

What is the hardest part about your job? Bringing awareness about these training courses and their importance. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a tragic accident before people really see the need for these training programs, so awareness and prevention is key! As RVT’s we have some real hazards in our jobs, and we need to be properly trained (both mentally and physically) so that we can be in good health and at optimal performance to service our patients and clients.

How has being an RVT helped you in your role? Do you feel like you are using a lot of your RVT skills and training? Being an RVT has given me the caring and empathy to really be passionate about this job. When I see the training needs our industry has, and know that I can make a difference in these areas, it makes me excited. As RVT’s we have the duty to advocate for our collogues, and we are the “right hand” for our Veterinarians, so it is our duty to make sure we are speaking up, and doing what we can to make our working environments safe. Our patients are always at the forefront of our minds, so we often forget to take care of ourselves.

What other jobs have you had in the RVT field? This is the first time I have branched out in a very different direction as an RVT, but prior to this I have worked in small animal, large animal, shelter medicine as well as mobile clinic care. I was even lucky enough to do some work with Harbour Seals as the “Veterinary Liaison” while developing an enrichment program!

Do you feel that RVTs are given access to enough safety training in their day-to-day operations? Absolutely not. In my 16 years of clinical practice, I was never even made aware that there were courses available for Autoclave Safety, X-ray Safety, Compressed gas & air as well as the Mental health courses that are becoming so important to our industry. There is a real need in our industry to do better in these areas through awareness and proper, up-to-date training. Now that they are being offered online, the resources are quite literally at our fingertips!

COVID-19 has amplified stress in everyone’s lives. How has this impacted your role? And if so – what specific tools are you focussing on when helping individuals or teams through the stress of COVID-19? Covid 19 has hit our industry hard, but it has also given us the push to make most of these training courses available through online and Distance Learning courses. Where I usually would visit my clients to discuss their health and safety needs, we are doing Zoom meetings, and even our in-class and on-location training class sizes have been reduced from 20 participants to 10 participants so that participants can be properly distanced. Given the mental health stress that Covid-19 has put on all industries and people in general, it is so much more important to bring awareness to the tools and resources we have available to help combat this.

RVTs are passionate people, and every RVT has an area they are most passionate about (nutrition, research, spay/neuter, dog bite prevention, education, etc.). What is YOUR passion? My passion as an RVT is actually behaviour & working with exotics, however on a larger scope, it is to serve, help and protect. While I do miss being with my patients every day, it is great to know that the work I do makes a difference in the lives of our friends, family and co-workers.      

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