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STAF117-0507 : Veterinary Assisting Module 4: Basic Concepts of Anesthesia, Elective Surgery, and Emergency Medicine

Heather Howell, LVT, MBA

May 15 - June 14, 2007
Real Time Sessions: Monday evening May 21, Tuesday evening May 29, and Monday evening June 4; 9:30pm-11:00pm ET (USA)

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Basic understanding of anesthesia and elective surgery is essential for veterinary assistants to help veterinarians and veterinary technicians with preparation, nursing care, monitoring, and recovery of patients. Not all practices perform every surgery but understanding terminology and considerations for clients can help ensure patient comfort. Once these basics are covered we will extend further into basic emergency medicine and the importance of triage in practice.

Module 4 has three (3) ninety (90) minute online interactive real time sessions covering discussion of situations; homework reinforcing the handouts and real time sessions; interactive message boards to discuss the real time sessions and homework; and a final exam. The course offers interactive cases that each participant must complete as homework during the course. The goal of the interactive cases is to test the participant's knowledge of the material discussed in each session.

All members of the veterinary support staff may join the course and its discussions; however, this course has a basic content and is focused toward veterinary assistants, animal caretakers and new hospital employees.

Upon completion of this course, the participant should be able to:

Goal of the course: To teach veterinary assistants, animal caretakers, and new employees necessary information so they may actively contribute to quality patient care. To impart knowledge and techniques veterinary assistants can utilize when assisting veterinarians and veterinary technicians. This course focuses primarily on companion animal practice.

TEXTBOOKS: There are no required texts for this course.
The instructor recommends the following texts for this module:


Weeks 1 & 2: Basic concepts in anesthesia and elective surgery
Content: These sessions discusses the basic concepts of anesthesia, surgery, the sterile field, and instrumentation. Routine elective procedures (ovariohysterectomy, castration, declaw, dentistry) are discussed in respect to the preparation, the procedure, potential surgical complications, and the role these surgeries play in the overall health of the pet. Client communication aspects of these topics will also be discussed. In addition, we will cover setting up for procedures, basic monitoring, and the veterinary assistant's role caring for the patient pre and post surgery.

Week 3: Basic concepts in elective surgery and emergency medicine/triage.
Content: This lecture will continue to discuss the basic concepts of surgery and move on to discuss the basics of emergency situations. The basic principles of triaging the potential emergency, obtaining an accurate history from the client in the face of an emergency, and discussion of what a true emergency is will be covered. In addition, we will cover the veterinary assistant's role in setting up for emergency care, monitoring the patient and necessary emergency equipment and pharmaceuticals.

LIBRARY MATERIALS: Library materials will be made available prior to the topic week so participants will have plenty of time to prepare for the real time sessions and discussion.

MESSAGE BOARD DISCUSSIONS: Message board discussions regarding the topic presented will begin on the day the course opens and continue for one week following the last real time session. These discussions will be held in the VSPN CE course area.

CE HOURS: 4.5 CEUs per module

$83 ($75.00 early bird special if registered before May 7, 2007).
*Enroll in all four VA Modules before January 29, 2007 and receive a 15% discount off the regular course price. This discount is only available through this date.
* Students currently enrolled in and taking at least 2 classes or 5 units at an AVMA accredited or CAAHT approved Veterinary Technician Program may be eligible to receive a 50% discount off the regular rate for this course (upon verification of student status). You must include the following information in the comments section of the CE enrollment form in order to be eligible for this discount: your program director's name and contact information (email/phone) and school name.

** NOTE: Registration will be closed when the maximum number of participants is reached or at 5pm ET the day of the first real time session.

** Minimal computer requirements for participating in VSPN and VPSNCE
** For More Information on how our online CE courses work please read the following:
How to's of online CE
Policies & Procedures


  1. Each person must individually be a registered member of VSPN ( Membership in VSPN is free.
  2. To enroll in any VSPN CE course click on the ENROLL NOW link below the course title on the right side of the page at
  3. Each enrollee must be able to receive emails from and addresses. This is our major form of communication with participants. It is highly recommended that course participants use their own, personal emails rather than clinic/hospital email addresses.
  4. VIN Member veterinarians SHOULD NOT register for their staff. Please have the staff member register through VSPN. Please email if you have questions.
NOTE: The Exceptional Client Service Skills for the Receptionist/Front Office Staff Member course is a precursor to The Challenges Facing the Receptionist/Front Office Staff Member course. It is highly recommended that this course be taken first.

Note: "This program was submitted (but not yet approved) to the AAVSB's RACE program for continuing education. Please contact the AAVSB's RACE program at should you have any comments/suggestions regarding this program's validity or relevance to the veterinary profession." (Attendees are encouraged to check with their licensing jurisdiction(s) for information regarding recognition by their board). This course has also been submitted for approval for continual education units toward CVPM requirements by the VHMA.

COURSE WITHDRAWAL AND REFUND POLICY: Withdrawal prior to the listed start date of a course entitles the registrant to a complete refund or a credit toward a future VSPN or VIN CE course, whichever is preferred. Withdrawal within 1 week after the listed start date (i.e. including no more than one real-time session) entitles the registrant to a credit toward any future VIN CE course. (Does not apply to courses with only one real-time session.) After the first real-time session, a registrant may withdraw due to special circumstances and receive prorated credit towards a future VIN course. These requests will be handled on an individual basis. The amount of the prorated credit will be determined based on 65% of the time remaining in the course at the time of withdrawal. It is not possible to withdraw retroactively.
Note: To ensure rapid handling of your request for withdrawal, we recommend that you call the VIN office at 1-800-700-INFO (4636).
** For More Information on VSPN's upcoming CE Courses, check out

Nanette R. Walker Smith, M.Ed., RVT, CVT, LVT
VSPN Content Director & CE Coordinator
1-800-846-0028 or 1-530-297-4950, ext 187

Ginger Sanders (, ext 183
Charlotte Waack (, ext 193 VSPN CE Services
1-800-846-0028 or 1-530-297-4950


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