General practice veterinarians are frequently faced with extremely sick patients and walk-in emergencies, and they must drop everything to stabilize and treat these pets. Weaving in emergencies with routine appointments can leave your head spinning, which is why VESPECON added emergency and critical care specialists to our consulting team. Dr. Aubrey L. Hnatusko is a criticalist based in Oklahoma who is always ready to share her knowledge with veterinarians nationwide via our virtual consulting service.

We’ve gathered the best of the best to join our consulting specialist team and support our general practice veterinarians, and we want our clients to form lasting relationships, so we’re profiling each specialist here. In this blog, learn more about Dr. Hnatusko and her chosen specialty, emergency and critical care.

Veterinary emergency and critical care: A day in the life

A veterinary emergency and critical care specialist typically works in a large referral practice with 24/7 emergency and ICU services. They handle and direct critical incoming emergencies, take critically ill or post-operative case transfers from other departments or referring hospitals, and lead the entire emergency and ICU team. While these specialists typically work with dogs and cats, many also have some expertise in exotics or large animals. Like other emergency department employees, their days can be long and unpredictable, which often is what they most enjoy about emergency care. 

ECC specialists perform advanced life-saving care, evaluate critical inpatients, devise and adjust hospitalized patient treatment plans, direct CPR codes, and perform or plan complex surgeries and anesthesias for emergency cases or patients in other departments. They are a wealth of knowledge and an asset to the entire hospital.

What can a veterinary ECC specialist treat?

The ECC specialist thrives in chaos, but keeps a cool head while providing care to critical patients. ECC specialists most commonly treat these problems:

  • Trauma
  • Shock
  • Toxicities
  • Arrhythmias
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Clotting abnormalities
  • Seizures
  • Critical illness
  • Sepsis
  • Anemia
  • Acid-base, electrolyte, and metabolic disturbances
  • Organ failure
  • Post-operative complications
  • Anesthetic complications

Dr. Aubrey Hnatusko: Q & A

Here are Dr. Hnatusko’s answers to our questions to help you get to know her on a more personal level.

Question: Where did you complete your veterinary education?

Answer: I completed a pre-vet BS degree in biochemistry and molecular biology and my DVM degree at Oklahoma State University. After veterinary school, I completed a rotating medicine and surgery internship at BluePearl in Northfield, IL, followed by my ECC residency at BluePearl in Tampa, FL.

Q: Where are you from, and where do you currently live?
A: I am from Verdigris, OK, and currently live in Guthrie, OK.

Q: Why did you choose to pursue a veterinary specialty?
A: I pursued a specialty to continue learning and to help my patients with additional skills and understanding.

Q: What do you enjoy most about emergency and critical care?
A: I enjoy the diversity of cases, the fast pace, and the unpredictability.

Q: How did you come to work with VESPECON?
A: I was referred to VESPECON by a trusted colleague.

Q: How does working with emergency and critical care through VESPECON benefit or help general practitioners?
A: As a VESPECON consultant, I can provide additional resources to help general practitioners stabilize and manage challenging cases.

Q: Tell us about your two- and four-legged family members.
A: I have two dogs—Kenzie, a 7-year-old Westie, who is my perfect princess, and Gunner, a 1-year-old German shorthaired pointer, who is a crazy ball of puppy energy!

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I enjoy country music concerts, two-stepping, listening to audiobooks, reading, training my puppy, Gunner, and going to the lake in the summer.

Q: What is the most interesting place you have traveled? Any specific destinations on your bucket list?
A: Yellowstone National Park was amazing! I am heading to Hawaii in May.

You can draw from Dr. Hnatusko’s extensive knowledge and experience or consult with one of our many other VESPECON specialists through our online video chat platform. VESPECON’s unique approach allows face-to-face, real-time consultation, which saves you and your patient valuable time in an emergency situation. Our specialists work closely together to provide expert, multidisciplinary advice, no matter the case complexity. Sign up to ensure you can access our ECC specialists quickly when needed, or contact us to learn more about our services and our team.