Tag Archives: continuing education

Melanie Passes her RVT Exams !

Melanie with George3

Melanie Bellomo Shifflett has completed a remarkably difficult challenge – she passed her RVT exams ! Becoming an RVT, or Registered Veterinary Technician, takes many hours, dedication, knowledge, and skill, as well as excellent test-taking abilities, and thankfully, our lovely Melanie possesses all of these qualities.

Even more incredibly, Melanie studied for and passed her exams during her pregnancy, after her labor, and during the first two months of her son George’s life. She is truly a Superwoman !

Melanie young tech

Melanie’s career at the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital spans an entire decade. She first began working at the hospital in 2005, after she met Dr. Suehiro at the Porter Ranch YMCA. Dr. Suehiro invited Melanie to volunteer at the hospital, and once she set foot here she never left.

Melanie already had a degree in Animal and Equine Science from the Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences, but she had no experience with cats or dogs. She did not let that stop her ! Melanie went from being a volunteer, to a doctor’s assistant, to a lead technician, and now the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital’s resident Registered Veterinary Technician.

Melanie with Accordion

Registered Veterinary Technicians in California first have to take an exam that is specific to the laws and procedures of the state. If they pass the state exam, they then need to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam, which all RVT’s are given. Melanie passed both tests on her first attempt.

The topics covered on the exams are extremely varied and nuanced, and are not relegated to just cats and dogs. Turtles, snakes, pigs – questions about pretty much any exotic or large animal can be asked on the RVT exam. Some of the areas covered on the exams are:

  • Emergency treatment and protocols: shock, triage
  • Laboratory procedures: hematology, cytology, urinalysis, microbiology, blood chemistry
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Surgical assisting
  • Anesthesia
  • Animal nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Dentistry
  • Animal behavior
  • Pharmacy and pharmacology
  • Zoonotic diseases
  • Fiberglass casting


And that’s not even everything !

We are so proud of Melanie, and could not have been less surprised with how well she has done. As Dr. Winters calmly said when we asked him if he was excited that Mel had passed her exams, “I figured she would.” Us too.

Melanie dog pile

Here is a tender statement Dr. Suehiro wrote about Melanie’s work at the hospital – Enjoy:

I met Melanie 11 years ago through a friend at the YMCA. I remember the first time I met Melanie, when I went mountain biking with my friends and she greeted me with one of her signature warm hugs. I am not a touchy feely person, but she was so warm and sincere about it that I let it slide. Later, I found out that Melanie graduated from Colorado State University as a pre-veterinary student, but did not pursue the veterinary track. At the time, Melanie seemed lost and unsure about her future. I really liked her warm outgoing friendly upbeat personality, so I asked her to volunteer at our hospital to maybe find her passion in the veterinary field again.

During her 11 year tenure here, Melanie has flourished and developed into one of our most loyal, devoted, and cherished employees at our hospital. Melanie displays the utmost honesty, integrity, character, and compassion. Her excellent interpersonal and communication skills makes her invaluable. She has worked in every department in the hospital from kennel attendant to hospital manager. She treats all the animals, clients and our employees with genuine compassion and respect.

Now, Melanie is a registered veterinary technician and the head technician of the hospital. I am so pleased and proud of how she persevered and achieved this accomplishment. I feel blessed that I have someone like Melanie at my side. Not only does she run and supervise the intensive care and surgery areas of the hospital but I also rely on her for advice on running the daily operations of the hospital.

I congratulate Melanie on her latest accomplishment. Melanie has a wonderful gift to help and care for animals and people. I hope she will continue to utilize her special gift and develop her skills as a registered technician. I expect that Melanie will help the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital become a progressive compassionate hospital for years to come. Please don’t leave any time soon.


Melanie with Scout and Marsha


Our Continuing Education in Anesthesiology

Anesthesia Mel surgery pic
One of our clients in post-surgical recovery gets a loving hand from our tech.

Our BHSAH surgeon, Dr. Ford Suehiro, spent last Sunday in San Diego at a veterinary seminar that covered all the latest medical updates on veterinary anesthesia. This seminar was designed for veterinarians to be informed about the most current techniques and products in the field of anesthesiology and pain management, in order to use the safest practices to manage pain, both locally and with general anesthesia, during and after surgery.

Anesthesia seminar William-Muir

The seminar, sponsored by pharmaceutical company Elanco, had the prestigious speaker William Muir III, DVM, a world-renowned researcher and clinician in anesthesiology and cardiovascular physiology.

Anesthesia Handbook coverDr. Muir is the author of The Handbook of Veterinary Anesthesia and The Handbook of Veterinary Pain Management. You can read more about Dr. Muir here.

Dr. Muir gave an all-day presentation about up-to-date surgical protocols, and covered his widely-practiced clinical studies on anesthetics.

There were about 200 veterinarians and technicians from all over Southern California at the all-day seminar. Some of Dr. Suehiro’s favorite topics were:

–The multi-modal use of pain medications, which refers to using multiple pain medications, including opiates and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Multi-modal pain management is a safer way of treating pain than anesthetic gas alone; this way, less anesthetic gas can be used, which will result in less side-effects and a faster and easier post-surgical recovery.

–The development of a Propofol alternative, called Alfaxan, which has a wider safety margin than Propofol, which means it has more flexibility in dosage than Propofol and less chance of adverse side-effects.

–Developments in newer, safer anesthesia monitoring equipment, such as new equipment that prevents the over-inflation of lungs in animals that are being ventilated. Dr. Muir also discussed improved monitoring parameters to ensure better patient recovery.

Dr. Suehiro had a great time at the seminar with Dr. Muir, and we are happy that he is keeping as up-to-date as possible on all the latest techniques and equipment, making our surgical patients as happy and as safe as possible!

Ask Dr. Suehiro about the seminar the next time you bring your furry baby in to the Animal Hospital!

(photo at top by BHSAH diva Melanie Bellomo.)



Our Pack is Smart!! Our Techs Go to Vet School

Vet Tech cat grad cap cropped

Between 1991 and 2014, 27 of our veterinary assistants have gone on to veterinary school! We are so proud of this record.

At the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital, we encourage an environment of learning, continuing education, and hands-on experience. Our senior doctors John Winters and Ford Suehiro have extensive experience working with new assistants.

We always welcome pre-veterinary college students interested in the day-to-day operations of small animal medicine to inquire about volunteering or working as paid veterinary assistant with us, as our schedule allows.

We also welcome high school students who are interested in a career in veterinary medicine to come and observe, and perform some menial hospital tasks to assist our doctors, technicians, and kennel staff.

Contact Dr. Ford Suehiro or technician Melanie at (310) 276-7113 to inquire.


Vet Techs Emma and Tracy
Technicians Emma Katz (L) and Tracy Noda (R) get some R&R before heading off to vet school.


Two of the incredible talents that we are losing to vet school this year are technicians Emma Katz and Tracy Noda.


Vet Techs Emma Puppies

Emma Katz has been working at the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital for the last several months, bringing her puppy love and caring touch to every animal that crossed her path in the exam rooms, the ICU, or in surgery. She was gifted enough to have her choice between multiple veterinary schools, and has chosen to attend the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.


Vet Tech Tracy

Tracy Noda has been working at BHSAH for the last two years, assisting Dr. Suehiro in surgery and excelling as a vet tech in the ICU. She also had her choice between schools (go Tracy!), and will be attending the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.


Emma and Tracy answered some interview questions for the BHSAH blog to share with their adoring public:

Where/When did your passion start?

Emma: My passion for animals started when I was a little girl. I have always loved animals and wanted to be a vet.

Tracy: Like many of us out there, my love for animals started before the advent of the internet and reality TV; however, I didn’t realize my desire to enter the veterinary field until after I received my bachelor’s degree from UCSD and wanted to pursue a career that truly followed my passions.

How did you hear about the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital?

Emma: I heard about BHSAH through a family friend who knew Dr. Winters. I wanted to be more involved in the area so I reached out and started working as an intern.

Tracy: Once I decided that I wanted to try my hand in veterinary medicine, I was introduced to Dr. Suehiro through family friends who heard I was looking for experience.  Serendipity!

Do you think working with an emphasis on hands-on learning at BHSAH encouraged your career path and veterinary passion?

Emma: Completely. Working at BHSAH has only solidified my passion and interest in the field. I have been able to continue my pursuit through being completely hands on in the practice. Through working in ICU, to assisting the vets in the rooms, and even scrubbing in on surgeries, I have been able to further develop my skills, knowledge, and passion.

Tracy: Working at the hospital has been an absolute pleasure and has also opened my eyes to all of the good that can be done in the field, and in life. They are incredibly nurturing here and try to teach us everything they can to further encourage our interest in veterinary medicine. The experience that I have gained here is invaluable, and I will forever be grateful to the doctors and staff.

What experiences from BHSAH have helped you most?

Emma: I really enjoy working with the people at BHSAH. Everyone here is so supportive and only wish for you to succeed. It really makes coming to the hospital everyday a true joy.

Tracy: I was a lucky duck to come to BHSAH. They have given me the opportunity to gain hands on experience and have entrusted me with more responsibilities over time which as further developed my knowledge and love of the field. I would say that the most valuable asset that I have gained from working here would be the experience and the encouragement that I received to pursue my dreams.

 Short piece of advice:

Emma: Follow your dream 🙂

Tracy: Life is full of surprises and challenges. One thing that I have taken away from this experience is to never give up on your pursuit of happiness. As C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.”

 What are your future goals and hopes?

Emma: I eventually see myself specializing in orthopedic surgery but am open to anything really, as long as I’m doing what I love, which is working with animals.

Tracy: Upon graduation from veterinary school, I would love to come back to Southern California to start my own practice. I would also love to be able volunteer my services abroad to communities that would not have access to veterinary care for their furry loved ones.

We are so proud of you, Emma and Tracy! Great journeys and happy trails. We hope you fix many animals in need out there.

(adorable cat grad cap at top from etsy shop iheartneedlework)




Breathe Easy! Respiratory Disease Seminar at the BHSAH Helps You Exhale

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Respiratory Dog Nose

Minolta DSC
the nose knows ~ we love when our furry friends breathe freely 🙂

As part of our continuing thirst for knowledge here at the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital, we invited pharmaceutical company representatives from Zoetis and their lecturer, Dr. Stephan A. Carey, DVM, PhD, Assistant Professor  at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, to come in and teach our staff a continuing education seminar about various respiratory diseases that most commonly effect dogs and cats.

These diseases include bordetella, mycoplasma, and canine influenza (dogs only).

Zoetis talk photo 4
Dr. Stephan A. Carey


Dr. Carey’s lecture included details about the ways these diseases spread between animals, how vaccinations for bordetella operate within your pet’s immune system, and the best way to treat your pet once these diseases have been diagnosed.

Zoetis talk photo 6


Dr. Carey was a very thorough lecturer and we thank him for coming in and talking to us!


Zoetis talk photo 1
Zoetis reps havin’ fun at BHSAH

(all lovely snouts at top from commons.wikimedia.org)

BHSAH Staff On the Go! Western Veterinary Conference 2014

Western Veterinary Conference1


The 86th Annual Western Veterinary Conference has been taking place for the last few days in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada! And besides partying with Andrew Dice Clay at the Hard Rock Casino, our veterinary staff have been taking advantage of all the lectures, continuing education courses, and training seminars that the WVC has been offering at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.


Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital doctors Ford Suehiro, John Winters, and Maie Takahashi attended the conference, along with our Registered Veterinary Technician Lili Balam and Veterinary Technician Tracy Noda.


Dr. Suehiro has reported that his favorite activity by far was the ultrasound class he and the rest of the staff participated in. The 5-hour class had 8 stations with a different type of ultrasound machine at each station, and a trained veterinarian ultrasonographer teaching their group of students in the proper way to identify internal organs with each specific machine. It was a fascinating course in both the variety and up-to-date technology available for veterinary ultrasounds.


Dr. Suehiro and Dr. Winters are back in the office to care for patients, and the rest of the staff are coming back today. We’re so happy that our team has a zest for continuing their veterinary education. Please ask our doctors about the conference the next time you bring in your furry baby to visit!