ICU technician earns prestigious certification

Animal health technologist Kim Foster (left) goes through cases with Melissa Underhill in the WCVM’s ICU. Photo: Robyn Thrasher.

Melissa Underhill is the latest staff member at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine to successfully earn her certification as a veterinary technician specialist in emergency and critical care.

Underhill, who has worked for two years in the small animal intensive care unit (ICU) at the veterinary college’s Veterinary Medical Centre, is the second WCVM staff member to be certified by the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians (AVECCT).

“Being specialized in ECC was always one of my personal goals and to have finally achieved that is very rewarding,” says Underhill, a graduate of Olds College who worked in Calgary, Alta., for six years before assuming her position at the WCVM.

ICU lead technician Danielle Mierau is the only other WCVM staff member to be currently certified by the professional organization. However, two more of Underhill and Mierau’s co-workers are submitting their AVECCT proposal packages. Another technician is working toward certification with the Academy of Veterinary Technician Anesthetists (AVTA).

To receive AVECCT certification, candidates must go through a rigorous credentialing process that includes working in an emergency clinic setting for at least three years as well as submitting a proposal, proof of advanced skill set, case logs and case reports  for review before becoming eligible to write the certification exam.

These stringent credential requirements ensure that AVECCT certified technicians possess the knowledge and experience that they need to work effectively in a well equipped and staffed emergency or critical care facility such as the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre.

“I have learned so much during this five-year process,” says Underhill. “My knowledge and nursing skills have greatly improved, and that just makes me feel good about the care I can provide to our patients.”

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