Who are you, what you do and how long have you been working in the faculty?
My name is Paula Larenza Menzies and I have been working at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Helsinki since March 2013. I am a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (ECVAA) and hold a PhD on the Pharmacology of an injectable anesthetic (S-ketamine) in horses. I am currently appointed as an Assistant Professor in Veterinary Anesthesiology (tenure track). As part of my job I perform research to improve the quality of anesthesia and analgesia in our patients by investigating newer and safer drugs. I also teach anesthesia and analgesia to veterinary students, nurses, interns and residents of the Veterinary School and participate of the clinical floor schedule where I have the opportunity to advice on anesthetic protocols to our anesthetists.
What issue or which issues marked the year 2014 in your work?
Year 2014 was vital for the Veterinary Anesthesia Service of the Teaching Hospital because we were able to open a veterinary residency program in anesthesia for the first time in Finland. We have currently two residents enrolled in a 3-year program at the ECVAA. This has brought more knowledge and recognition to the discipline. Our patients benefit from a better anesthesia care and pain management and we have more educated people available to spread the knowledge along the country.
In addition, we have started investigating models to assess the microcirculation during anesthesia to find out what anesthetic agents improve or impair peripheral blood flow. Together with this, my group has also picked up an interest in the influence of the anesthetic technique on cancer recurrence and currently we have several projects investigating whether some anesthetics can exert a protective action by avoiding the spread of cancerous cells during oncological surgery.
What is the best thing about your work?
The best thing about my job is the ability to work with pretty much any kind of animal species. Although we focus our service on mainly dogs, cats and horses, we also anesthetize rabbits and pocket pets in general, farm animals, birds and zoo animals. It is always exciting to be able to make our patients more comfortable under anesthesia and to help relieve pain.
The interaction with the veterinary students is also a highlight of my work. It is always very exciting to be able to pass along our knowledge and help them succeed in their career. Teaching has become a passion of mine and I am always seeking ways to make the students’ learning experience stimulating.
What are your plans for 2015?
The plans for 2015 include continuing with our professional advancement by providing good teaching, clinical care and research. We are planning on expanding our research areas and incorporate projects that include pain recognition and management. Providing guidance for people interested in veterinary anesthesia will also play a significant role in my future plans.