For almost 2 decades there has been increasing recognition of the importance of properly assessing and managing pain. A fundamental part of practicing good medicine, human or veterinary, is recognizing and treating pain. Society has an increased concern for the ethical and compassionate care of humans and animals suffering from pain and distress. Making pain management a priority in your practice means that every person on the team has an important role to play in identifying pain in every animal. Relieving pain is compassionate care at its best, and compassionate care is both a quality-of-care and a quality-of-life issue.
The pain management team consists of veterinarians, credentialed veterinary technicians, veterinary technician assistants, kennel staff, groomers, receptionists, and practice managers. Effective management of pain requires ongoing diligence on the part of the entire veterinary team. Pet owners need to be educated regarding pain, what to look for, and, once a pain management plan has been made, the team must maintain consistent contact with pet owners to assess the animal’s status to adjust management plans accordingly. Delegating specific tasks to each team member will help ensure this happens. Through a variety of educational modalities, the veterinary team has the opportunity to improve their understanding of pain, and to incorporate this new found knowledge into their day-to-day practice.
Advanced Concepts in Pain Management: Companion Animals is a 8-week course that focuses on the physiology of pain and the development of acute pain to chronic and neuropathic pain. Recognition of pain and development of a pain scale to use in your practice or facility will be strongly reviewed. Pharmacologic management of pain for companion animals will be studied in detail. Multimodal analgesia will be discussed extensively since this has been designated as the most effective way to manage pain. Physical medicine issues such as acupuncture and rehabilitation will be briefly discussed. Cancer, Quality-of-Life, Hospice and Palliative Care will be topics of discussion and study. Finally, participation in detailed case studies will enable the student to be a valuable, contributing member to the veterinary health care team in the welfare of their animal patients.