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The Veterinary Technician’s Role in Communicating with Clients About Their Pet’s Medications: A Personal Perspective from Jodi Schumacher, LVT, VTS (SAIM, ECC)

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The following blog is written by Epicur Pharma’s Advisory Council member Jodi Schumacher, LVT, VTS (SAIM, ECC). As a veterinary technician of 30+ years, Jodi shares how to listen carefully and support pet owners to help find a solution that works for them.

From Jodi, a true patient story on the importance of educating clients on compounding pharmacy solutions:

A four-pound Toy Poodle named Lilly was presented to the internal medicine service at the specialty hospital where I worked. Lilly had chronic kidney disease, and chronic airway disease, and was recently diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy.

For the past year, Lilly’s mom, who was in her 80s, had been cutting, crushing, and mixing pills each day, trying to get Lilly to take her medications. This routine had become so stressful that Lilly’s owner felt she could not treat Lilly any longer. So, she came to us to see if any medication could be discontinued.

After listening, I realized the owner had no idea what a compounding pharmacy was, or that other formulations of the same medication could be compounded to make administration easier and the medication more palatable for Lilly. Over the course of the next month, Lilly’s mom found a flavor and formulation that Lilly liked and readily took in liquid and treat form. Medicating Lilly was no longer met with fear and trepidation, drastically reducing stress, and making it possible for the owner to continue managing Lilly’s multiple chronic diseases long-term.

Veterinary Technicians’ Critical Role in Pet Owner Education and Support

As a VTS in Internal Medicine and Emergency/Critical Care and the lead technician in the Internal Medicine department at my hospital, I get calls every day from clients who are having difficulty giving their pets medication. Some fixes are easier than others. Medicating animals can be stressful, aggravating, impossible, and downright dangerous if they are trying to bite you. It’s important that vet technicians are aware of the experience pet owners may have when caring for their pets once they leave the practice. Most of the time their intention is to comply with the veterinarian’s recommendations. But doing so can sometimes be more difficult than we imagine.

Technicians are the first line of communication between the doctor, client, and compounding pharmacy. Having knowledge of different ways medications can safely be compounded and given is essential. Being able to give owners options can sometimes be lifesaving, both for the patient and for that owner who was about to give up. Working with the correct compounding pharmacy can also be crucial to the relationship between patient, client, technician, and veterinarian. The veterinarian and technician must have complete confidence in the pharmacy that the formulation is safe, effective, and formulated to the dose that was prescribed. You want a compounding pharmacy that follows strict regulations to ensure the integrity and quality of its medications. You also want a pharmacy that allows ease of ordering for clients and veterinary staff. The experience of prescribing, ordering, delivering, and administering all are pieces of the puzzle that must fit together to achieve the desired outcome and have a successful relationship. It is essential for owners, veterinary staff, and pharmacists to work together to achieve the best results for our patients.

In Summary: 

  • Ask the client how they are doing with administering medication
  • Listen carefully for any concerns they have about the process, the drug, or their pet
  • Support their efforts by offering solutions to help them be compliant with care

Thank you, Jodi, for shedding light on the important role veterinary technicians have in communicating with clients, doctors, and pharmacists. To help your practice learn more about the role of having a trusted pharmacy and compounding partner, here are more resources from our library:

A partner you can always trust, Epicur can keep your practice or hospital stocked for critical moments. See our full product portfolio of 503B medications:

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