Sometimes finding the answers to anesthesia questions can be tough. But what if you had a whole group of friends you could count on, who understood the everyday challenges you face in practice and were eager to discuss them with you and help you find the answers you need. The Veterinary Support Personnel Network (VSPN) has always provided that trusted circle of friends to me. In this post I want to introduce you to VSPN, help you navigate the site, and get you started as a member of this free veterinary resource.
What is VSPN?
Maybe you’ve heard of VIN, the Veterinary Information Network. VIN has pioneered providing instant access to vast amounts of up-to-date veterinary information, turning subscribing practitioners who might have felt like competitors into a community of over 53,000 professional colleagues. VSPN is an extension of VIN, providing the same up-to-date veterinary information, tailored to the needs of veterinary support personnel. One significant difference between VIN and VSPN is cost. Unlike VIN, which is a fee-based subscription service, VSPN is a free community. The Veterinary Support Personnel Network brings together people from all over the world to interact with each other, teach each other, and learn from each other. As a VSPN member, you have access to thousands of colleagues who want to help you and your patients – 24 hours a day!
Let’s take a look around
When you click on this link, you’ll go directly to the VSPN.org home page. One of my very few criticisms of VSPN is that the website layout looks a little dated and feels a little text-heavy. To me, it still has the feel of a message board and navigation of the site is not as intuitive as I like. New visitors may need a moment to get oriented. But I guarantee that it’s worth the effort. One of the first things to do here is to apply for membership.
Your membership application may take a couple of days to process, but in my experience the folks at VSPN are very responsive.
The Message Boards
You’ll have to wait until your application is approved before you can explore the content of the site, so let me give you a sneak preview of what’s in store. I find one of the most useful resources is the VSPN Message Boards. These are your gateway to discussions on current topics, management methods, drug protocols, and so much more. Discussions with your peers allow you to exchange ideas, get help with specific patient management problems or cope with stress of practice.
The Message Board folders cover medical and practice management topics, industry information, and so on. The Message Boards are searchable and customizable, allowing you to get the information you want in the way you want it. Just click on ‘Message Boards’ in the top navigation bar and then open the drop-down menu labeled VSPN to choose your topics of interest.
Of course, I’m partial to the Anesthesia folder where you’ll find lively and informative discussions about all aspects of the management of anesthesia, from anesthesia nerds around the world. All VSPN members can initiate and participate in Message Board discussions. This interaction is what makes the VSPN community so useful to all of us as veterinary professionals.
The VSPN Notebook
One of the real treasures of this community is the VSPN Notebook®, an online handbook of easily-accessible information for hospital staff to use in practice every day. As an online version, it is regularly updated and amended to contain the most current information in the profession. We can all suggest additions to this online book to help make it fit our needs. You can order a hardcopy of the book from the VIN Bookstore to have as a ready reference in your practice. I bought a copy for my team years ago, before it was offered online. We always found it useful.
We’ve just scratched the surface!
Nothing makes anesthesia easier than having good up-to-date information at your fingertips. That’s why I wanted to introduce you to one of the most useful web communities I have found. The VSPN worldwide community is made up of people just like us, who all pool our knowledge and experience to get help and to give help. And our patients are better served by every question asked and answered. Benefits for VSPN members include access to the online version of the VSPN Notebook®, community message boards, rounds sessions and an extensive library of past rounds transcripts and handouts. You’ll also find over 50 continuing education courses per year taught by leaders in the field of veterinary technology. And sometimes you might just want to connect with people who understand the crazy world you work in. Give VSPN a visit.
Ken Crump is a writer and animal anesthetist, and writes Making Anesthesia Easier for DarvallVet, a division of Advanced Anesthesia Specialists. He makes dozens of Continuing Education presentations on veterinary anesthesia and oncology across the United States and in Canada. Ken retired from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University in 2008