In this episode of the Inventory Nation Podcast, I am so excited to be joined by Dr. Laura Catena. Dr. Laura is a small animal veterinarian and entrepreneur. She developed the ArmOr Hand Animal Handling Gloves after an injury she endured while working in emergency medicine. Dr. Catena has a strong interest in human and pet supplements, how they are formulated, tested, and their efficacy. Dr. Catena is a firm believer in holistic care integrated with conventional medicine, when needed, as well as the importance of self-care.
Dr. Laura Catena graduated from The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2009, she was injured by a cat. Here’s what she had to say about her experience, “I went to the hospital where they soaked my hand and I was sent home on antibiotics. The next morning, woke up, and the infection from my hand had spread up my arm to my neck. I returned to the hospital that day and had emergency surgery, my joints in my left hand had become septic. Trying to get the infection under control was difficult, so a PICC line was then placed in my right arm. I was in the hospital for a week, unsure if I’d be able to work again. I did 7 months of physical therapy to regain the use of my left hand. While in the hospital, I realized that there was a need for a protective glove that is not bulky – one that we can actually wear.
My personal story has really made me aware of how important self-care as well as PPE is in practice. My mission is to really change the connotation that protecting ourselves, when needed, is “bad.” It’s necessary when working with animals. This is a huge part of my career both professionally and personally, really making sure that veterinarians and staff understand the seriousness and importance of animal bites and scratches. This, for me, also goes along with the need overall for taking care of ourselves in all regards – our emotional health, mental health, etc as there is an epidemic of suicide in the veterinary profession. I know we need to be more proactive as a profession to protect ourselves on the job from injury, but also it is just as important to me that we are really taking care of all aspects of our health and well-being. Many times veterinarians are selfless, caregivers, and we need to keep these beautiful qualities balanced to avoid burn-out and compassion fatigue. I’m also a mother of 2 young boys, ages 5 and 7, in addition to running my business, so it has been a wakeup call for me when my life became so out-of-balance when self-care was severely lacking in my routine. Another big thing for me, that is a work in progress, is setting boundaries as well as not over-explaining myself. This is a work in progress for me, but if I’m not comfortable doing something or don’t want to do something socially – I’m getting practice and experience saying “no” and being confident in my own choices.”
During our conversation, Dr. Laura shares her advice with other veterinary professionals: “What I wish I knew was the importance of self-care. When I graduated veterinary school and started working in emergency medicine, I know for a fact that every moment of my life went, in some way, toward my profession and I was just missing the importance of what I needed emotionally, mentally, physically, so I think for every veterinarian there is time to restart that. Even if it’s very small changes, even one thing a day, it’s really just so important to make yourself a priority as well.”