Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No College Degree? I beg to differ...

Recently, there was this horrible video shared on the news:


There are so many things wrong about this I don't even know where to start. First of all, I think due to a lot of ads by community colleges and online universities, most people are becoming aware that to be a Registered Veterinary Technician, you must have a college degree. For this woman to go on live television, a news station nonetheless, and say such false and inaccurate information is frustrating.

Then, she goes on to insult the profession that I spent 6 years working towards.

I struggle a lot sometimes with my profession, not because I am ashamed of my job, but because vet techs don't get a lot of the credit they deserve.  I went to the number one Veterinary Technician program in the nation. That's pretty huge! I am so proud of that fact. It's not only the hardest program, but we also get the most hand on experience and most hours of certified experience.  I've done things that most fourth year vet students don't get to do until they are out of practice. (Nothing against vet students, but because there are less of us and no interns/residents to compete with, we get to do tasks earlier in our curriculum).  To say I don't hold dogs and cats for shots and nail trims would be a lie. Unfortunately, when you are in a small animal practice, a lot of your clients will come in for just that.  Yes, a lot of the time I feel like a "glorified kennel worker".  I clean off tables, I clean poop out of cages, I get scratched and bled on, and unfortunately at my job I don't get to do a lot of the technical skills I was doing on a daily basis at school.  Its very frustrating and hard to stay motivated, but I work for amazing people which makes up for that fact.  I still get to do amazing things and be an integral part of every treatment, surgery, and sometimes decisions made.

When I bring a client in the room and they say "are you the vet" and I explain I am the vet tech, comparable to a nurse practioner, sometimes I get the reaction of "ok great!" but usually people literally say "I don't want you, I want the vet."  I usually smile and explain I will be taking a history and "don't worry the doctor will be right in!"  Its such a let down. It makes me feel like I don't matter. But then again, some of our older clients still treat our two young female doctors like 13 year olds and can't believe that a woman so young is a doctor?!?!

Its unbelievable what people will say or do.

I am so proud of my experience at Purdue. I got my Bachelors of Science in the College of Agriculture in Animal Science. A very TOUGH program at an Ag based school. I took all course required to be a Veterinarian, because at that point in my life, that was my plan.  Why did I change my mind and become a vet tech? It's not because I wasn't able to make the grades, or get into vet school, or because I wasn't willing to put in another 4 years of hard work. Its simply because: I do NOT want to be a veterinarian.

I've grown up in a family of veterinarians my entire life. I watched my dad get home late, miss swim meets, be dog tired and have to get up two hours after going to sleep to go in on a call.  Working at the animal hospital since I was 14, I started seeing that the vets didn't really get to do as much hands on as I thought they did. Their assistants or technicians did.  The vets were dealing with the over emotional or angry clients. They were dealing with making the hard tough decisions that they would lay in bed and question themselves on.  That's not what I wanted. I didn't necessarily want the huge pay cut that would be inevitable, but it was worth it to me to have a more family friendly job.

I love my job, but not every day. Isn't that normal? I am NOT too good to clean up poop, but I am too good to listen to some uninformed idiot tell everyone that what I do didn't take a college degree. Next time you're in the hospital and you can't move from your bed and you have to call a nurse to help you use a bed pan, remember, that's not what he/she signed up for, and its also not all they can do. Same with a vet tech. Just because it looks like all we do is trim your dog's toenails, just remember that when your dog comes in for surgery, we are the ones monitoring it and watching its blood pressure, and EKG and informing the doctor if something isn't right since their focus is on the actual surgery.  Remember that when your dog poops in the exam room and we are the ones to get on our knees and clean it up (even at 38 weeks pregnant) that when your dog is on IV because you gave it ibuprofen because your "groomer told you to" that the vet tech is the one changing the fluids, giving medicine, making sure your dog isn't laying on a blanket saturated in its own pee, and calling the doctor for orders since the doctors aren't even there.

Be educated, that's all I ask. I know this post is really angry and snarky and sometimes rude...but that's how I feel A LOT of people treat my profession and me.  Trust me, I miss putting in jugular catheters, and chest tubes, and inducing anesthesia, and all the other fun things that I hardly ever get to do at my job now. But I do love a lot of our clients and their pets. Sometimes I don't even like the pet, but the client is so sweet that I feel the need to go above and beyond for their biting l5 year old Min Pin.

Please give Vet Techs the credit we deserve!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Compassion Fatigue

Sorry if this post is a little down from what I usually write, but it comes with the job.  Some days are great, some, not so much.

Most all know that a part of a veterinarian and their staff's job is to assist clients in making the decision to put their animals to sleep.  I'll admit, I've become callous towards some of these visits from clients. It's only normal after doing it hundreds of times, or if you didn't really have a relationship with the client of patient.  However, there are so many times when it rains, it pours. We'll have one euthanasia that opens the door up to 5 more in a day.  It gets depressing. Its hard on the doctors, its hard on us.  What people don't understand is that we are a walk-in clinic, so we will have a new puppy in one room, an allergy dog in the next, and a client of 30+ years saying goodbye yet again to a special member of their family.  Its very emotionally taxing to deal with these goodbyes alongside taking good care of our other clients, and I'm just the tech, not the vet.  I don't say this to belittle my job, people do that to my profession every single day, but I say this because I am so thankful for my role as technician during these moments. These reasons are why I didn't continue on to vet school.

This past week was a perfect example of something very serious we learn about in tech school: compassion fatigue.  Most vet techs are compassionate people to the very core, sometimes even more than the veterinarians.  We connect with animals on a whole new level, some animals touch us more deeply than others.  Its heartbreaking when you see people come in with a little pit bull puppy that has never had shots, and gives us a positive parvovirus test, and then they don't have any money, so they take the puppy home with our best "at home care" instructions and we know very well that that puppy won't even make it through the night. How do you think that makes me feel? This isn't like human medicine where there is medicaid.  We have to make money too. Lord knows our vets make their fair share of "pity cost cuts" during the year.  How can you not? It's usually not for the client's sake. Ignorant, negligent clients frankly piss us off. Its the animals that break our hearts. Turning away the sick patient is what sends me to food room to cry for 2 minutes and get myself together.  It sucks.

This week for some reason was one of those weeks where everybody coming in was sick, and not just sick, but poor prognosis sick.  One dog got into antifreeze. Another hit by car. The list goes on.  The other day the sweetest old guy came in with his pet rabbit.  He takes amazing care of this rabbit and its his baby. He doesn't have a lot of money, but he always pays his bills, even if it takes a few payments.  His rabbit was very sick, we were going to have to do a very expensive surgery and even that was probably not going to save him.  Watching this man break down in the room in tears because he didn't have the money to pay for his rabbit was so hard to see. Normally, I would just accept this and move on.  However, he tugged at my heart strings more than others have.  I told him I'd help him with the payments.  So we went ahead with surgery, opened the rabbit up and found tumors all over.  We ended up euthanizing him and closing him up.  I'm not a big rabbit lover, but this guy just broke my heart. He'd just lost his best little buddy who he was willing to give his whole life savings to.

Things like this make me so glad I work in the animal world. I couldn't bear to work in a children's hospital and watch parents go through the same thing. However, I don't want to sound like I am belittling the importance of animals' in human's lives.  They can be the light of someone's life and I've never known a person who hasn't benefited from their relationship with their pet.

Sorry this post is a little sad, but its just been on my mind and just needed to put it out there.  I love my job, and in some ways, I love being able to help people say goodbye to their animals. I just hate the feeling of knowing that there are so many other animals that need help, care, and love.  This isn't me pulling a "Sarah Maclaughlin" and making everyone feel super guilty that they haven't run to their local Humane Society to adopt a pet.  I just often have people question why I only have one dog, and its because I can't financially afford more, nor do I want another dog.  Remember that you have a responsibility to your pet, and that having one is a privilege, not a right.

Crazy Clients

Sometimes, I think that I should get a raise for every weird client I see and manage to assist without losing my professional composure.

There's a certain favorite client of mine who likes to bring her beloved Basset "Rosie" into the animal hospital for toe nail trims.  The first time I helped Rosie and her owner, I noticed that the entire office immediately emptied and that I was left alone with her file in my hand. I just figured everyone was having stomach cramps at the same time from eating McDonalds everyday for breakfast, so I went on my way.  Soon, I learned why everyone scattered. 
We put Rosie on the table and she immediately went into a fit of distress. She howled and cried and loud as possible while her mom told her, "You're a good mamma baby Rosie! You're a good mamma baby!" What's a "mamma baby?" I know what a "baby mamma" is, but "mamma baby?"  I began the toe nail trim and immediately Roise yowled an octave higher.  That's when I started to hear singing. Yes, singing.
Apparently when Rosie is upset, her mom sings to her to calm her down. This song goes to the tune of Frank Sinatra's "Pretty Baby", also sung as the "Party Pooper" song sung by our generation.

"Everybody loves a Rosie, that's why I'm in love with you,
Pretty Rosie, pretty baby.
I'd like to be your sister, brother, dad and mother too,
Pretty Rosie, pretty baby (Mamma?)."

As she is once through the song and about to start again, I need help. Mainly because Rosie is squirming and yowling and I only have 3 nails cut, but also because I am about to combust.  I make one of the girls, Staci, from the front desk come and hold Rosie for me, and Rosie's mom commences singing again.  The entire time I just keep thinking, "Don't look at Staci, don't look at Staci!" Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was Staci. Her head was tucked and very red, and her shoulders were shaking so bad I thought she was having a seizure. She stole a glance at me and I lost it. Before I busted I quickly excused myself to go into the hallway and laugh.  Rosie's mom wasn't phased one bit by our rude behavior, she was still just singing away to good ol' Rosie!

Another funny client story happened earlier over the summer.  One of the receptionist came back to let us know that some people were bringing their dog to us, but they were going to bring her in the carrier.  She kinda giggled when she said this and said "it's a little dog in a big carrier". We didn't really think all that much of this so I went out to the lobby to call them in.  I call the name and instantly realize I am going to have a very hard time maintaining professional composure. This very sweet couple has this small 30 lb beagle in a HUGE cage. Not only is this cage huge (at least 4 feet tall and deep) but its so big they have it on wheels. I do pretty well as they roll it down the hallway, but when they try to come through the door and it doesn't fit, I about lose it.  I thought maybe the reason they had this huge cage was because the dog was aggressive, but no, she's as sweet as can be but seems to be a bit shy.  So, I of course have to get down on all fours and climb up and back into her RV of a cage to get her out.  The best part was one of our doctors following them with his camera phone to get a picture to show his wife.

Who else out there has some good crazy client stories?!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


It seems like every single day at work, I find a new way to make myself look like a total fool. Whether it's something I say, do, or trip over, the moments never seem to cease.

I was assisting in surgery one time and I had a very runny nose (Ironically, I am allergic to cats. Great job choice, huh?) I decided to shove two cotton balls up my nose to collect my "exudate" and since I had a surgery mask on, no one would even notice! How clever am I?! The surgery progressed and we ran into some complications, therefore, needing further assistance. Dr. Boss came to our rescue to help us get the situation under control. During this short time of turmoil, I could feel one of the cotton balls coming a bit loose in the confines of my nostril. I didn't really think about it because I was so focused on our situation until I felt it fall completely out, beyond the safety of my surgery mask, and onto the floor...all the while both doctors were watching. Needless to say it was really embarassing, especially when Dr. Boss asked, "Where did THAT come from?" and looked me up and down like I was a cotton ball dispensing machine.

During our day we call up clients to check in on our patients from the recent week. Today while leaving a voicemail for a client I was caught between saying "don't ever hesitate to call us" and "feel free to call us!". It ended up coming out as, "If you have any questions, please don't feel free to call us!" Then realizing my mistake I tried to cover it up by saying, "I mean, please DO call us. If you have questions. But you can call us even if you don't have questions. But not after 6 pm because we won't be here anymore. So, in summary, please call us if you have questions or no questions." Then when I hung up I realized I didn't even leave the clinic's number.

My favorite blooper was done by Vet Tech Red Curry when she did a recall while we were in the room, this is what it sounded like:
Red Curry: "Hello, Mrs. Jones?"...Oh, I'm sorry MISTER Jones....Oh...it is Mrs.? Oh yes, yes I understand."
This has happened twice now, and each time is just as funny as the last.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's just an expression!

I dedicate this entry to Red Curry.

Anal Glands.

Probably the grossest combination of two words anyone ever came up with. What's worse is that they actually are not glands. They are actually called anal SACS. Can you imagine maintaining professional composure when saying that in front of a client? I think the veterinarian who came up with the anatomical term "anal sacs" is probably giggling in his grave somewhere thinking how funny he is.

Anyways...anal glands are gross. But, gross as they are, they have to be expressed. When clients bring in their animals to have this done, they think "No big deal, just squeeze 'em out please!". So we put on our glove, lube up our finger, and dive on in.

However, imagine if WE as humans had to have this done. Thank the Good Lord for creating our rectums anal gland-free. How humiliating would it be to go every month to your family physician to have this little problem taken care of. "Just here to get my glands expressed Doctor. Nothing else. Feeling fine." Shudder.

So next time you take your pet to the vet to "JUST to get his glands expressed" think again, and have some treats ready for the car ride home for your poor pooch.

Restraining order

Many of you know that a big part of a vet tech's job is restraining patients. Sounds easy right?


Case #1
One week before my wedding. Enter client with Yappy Doodle Dandy, a happy little beagle in for a simple toe nail trim. Dr. Blondie needs some help so I come to her rescue.  In a matter of seconds as I arrive into the room, Yappy has peed on the floor, wiggled out of his leash, and inhaled the treats Dr. Blondie gave him as a bribe to be a good boy. As he yacks said treats on the floor in slobbery mess, Mrs. Doodle Dandy decides it would be "best for her to wait in the lobby." Wuss. I pick up Yappy and Dr. B commences the trim. With every "snip" of the clippers, Yappy howls, rolls around in my arms, paddles his arms faster than Michael Phelps, and then hacks and coughs. This is not unusual behavior for most dogs, however, Yappy is feeling extra spunky today. He must've heard from Captain Claws the cat in the waiting room that my wedding is coming up. Now, Captain Claws and many like himself have already done a number on my arms and hands, making it impossible to have decent looking skin for my wedding. I'm over it, it's fine. At least I have my teeth...so I thought.  On the very last paw, on the very last nail, Yappy decided enough is ENOUGH! With every bit of strength in his 35 pound body he throws his head back into my chin. CRACK! Instantly tears come to my eyes and I realize that my upper right incisor feels abnormally loose. No no no no no. I can NOT look like a hilbilly at my wedding. Dr. Blondie gives me a hug to try to stop my blubbering tears, while Yappy just smiles between us. Jerk. I wipe off the snot from my face and I start praying to heaven that my tooth can be saved. Dr. Brain is already scurrying off to call the local dentist (also a guest to the wedding) to see if she can fix my tooth in return for the silverware she got us as a wedding gift.  However, all is well, the tooth is just loose and it tightens up in time for the wedding. You can bet that next time I see Yappy, I'll make sure it's also time for his anal glands to be expressed. Take that!

Case #2:
Enter cute little old couple with bedraggled sick cat who is older than the pyramids.  His skin tents about as high as the pyramids too since he's so dehyrated. The clients explain to you that their sweet old kitty has been so listless and lethargic and that he hasn't moved in days. So now you're thinking "aw, poor sick kitty. I bet it just laid there comatose as you treated it." Of course not! Kitty not only managed to scratch both my arms and the doctor's, but he also managed to have the energy to chew out his catheter, and spray the entire hospital with his evil smell.  Now everytime you walk by his cage "HISS!" and then "WHAP WHAP WHAP!" his little scrawny "listless" arms come out and smack you every time. Of course, the doctor wants to try something different with him every 5 minuts, so it's my job to retrieve him from his evil lair.  I get the Big Blanket of Terror from the kennel workers and try out my ninja skills to catch kitty. I know I'm making myself look like those crazy guys that wrestle calves to the ground at rodeos (Ok, I'll be honest. I can only hope that I'm looking that cool). When I finally get kitty into the treatment room, I realize I am covered in cat pee, I have lost clumps of my hair, and that somehow my scrub pants and top have become inversed and inside out. As I regain some composure, the doctor pops his head in the door while texting on his fancy phone to let me know that "Oh, nevermind. You can put him back. I'll have you help me later. I'm busy."

Needless to say sick kitty was put to shame forever by MY hissing.

Case #3:
This is my favorite scenario because it happens a lot.
Enter macho man with mustache, muscles, leather jacket, and big black boots with his 100 pound mutt, Harley.  The vet calls you in to restrain Harley for a bit and the big ol guy says, "Oh, she won't be able to do that Doc." Usually the vet speaks up for us at this point and reassures the client that we are capable.  However, some clients just don't accept it. "She won't be strong enough Doc. Harley here is a big ol strong boy, ain't ya Harley?!"
Harley's dad decided HE is going to restrain Harley. Ha, I will gladly stand back and enjoy. He bends down to expose a large hairy buttcrack as he wraps his big hairy arms around Harley's torso. Harley easily wiggles out. Again, he wraps his arms around him, this time telling him "hold still!" Yep, that's gonna work. Harley wins again! This time Harley's pop takes a new approach. He picks Harley up in his arms and says "Hurry Doc, give him the shots!" as his face turns redder and redder (and a hernia forms). Harley turns and gives his dad a slobbery kiss of mockery and then...you guessed it...wiggles out of his dad's arms again.  This time his dad tumbles to the floor with him and it takes a couple of us to get him back on his feet. Needless to say, the vet is impatient and annoyed at this point. I am feeling good because this guy is about to be shown up. I'm called in to restrain Harley. I do my thing, and in a matter of seconds the shots are given and I shower Harley with treats for "being such a good boy and knocking down your daddy!" Tell me what I can and can not do! I dare you!

So, there you have it. Case in point!

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's a Girl!

My husband and I are getting a puppy. It's a girl German Shorthaired Pointer and we won't be getting her until late May.  Finding a name for our future children is a peice of cake for us to agree on. However, finding a name for our future puppy is close to impossible.

Names I like:
Furgie, Birdie, Finley, Dewie, and for some reason I'm trying to make the name of an Alaskan city work...so very Sarah Palin of me, I know!

Names he likes:
Gretchen, Sassy, and Zeus (all names of his past dogs...the last one isn't even a female name!)

So, since we can't agree, I am taking suggestions.

Which makes me think...I have so many great names for animals that I don't own. For example:
-Hagrid: For a very large, long haired black dog
-Marvin: a very sensible cat
-Raven - a slightly overweight black miniature poodle resembeling Raven Simone (Cosby Show and Disney's That's So Raven)
-Frito: a little playful orange kitty
-Bugsby: a little bugged eyed Boston Terrier or Pug
-Mooch: a big ol Great Dane that gives you sad eyes while you're eating
-Blair Waldorf: a very evil cat...with claws!
-Dingle: a male intact of any species
-And in honor (or should I say honour?) of the Royal Wedding, William & Kate: a pair of King Charles Cavaliers

I should get paid for this!

Anyways...we are offically taking suggestions for our new little baby!