Tech Talk – Who is Your Vet Tech?

Who is your Veterinary Technician?

The Veterinary Technician is an indispensable part of your pets medical team yet it seems that many people outside of the veterinary world have no idea what we do. Do we simply hold animals for the doctors we work for? Do we snuggle puppies and kittens all day long? (No, though that doesn’t sound bad…) Are we similar to human nurses? Have we gone to school? Are we licensed or registered? How are we different than Veterinary Assistants? This blog post is here to dispel all these myths and to hopefully answer your questions!

A Registered Veterinary Technician (or Certified or Licensed depended on what state you live in) is a technician who has passed the VTNE, the Veterinary Technician National Exam. They will also have satisfied the additional requirements their particular state and/or province may have. The VTNE is a rigorous examination encompassing both small and large animal medicine. Most states and all provinces require that VTNE candidates be graduates of a Veterinary Technology program accredited by the American or Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. There are a few states left that allow technicians to “grandfather” in, meaning they can use on the job experience in order to qualify to take the test however, this is going out of favor.

Most RVT’s have graduated from either a 2 year or a 4 year Veterinary Technology program where they studied everything from anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, surgical nursing, anesthesia, radiology, parasitology, medical math and more. During these programs students typically complete externships where they gain on the job experience and many students work at veterinary practices too. Upon graduation and successful passing of the VTNE, a person can be lucky enough to call themselves a Registered Veterinary Technician. There are many different avenues a technician may choose to go into such as working with laboratory animals, food animals, zoo animals, equine medicine, small animal general practice or emergency practice, specialty medicine and more!

There is another level of expertise that Registered Veterinary Technicians can pursue and that is to obtain their Veterinary Technician Specialty certification. There are a variety of specialties a technician may pursue such as Small Animal Internal Medicine, Emergency and Critical Care, Anesthesia, Dentistry, and more. This is an extremely demanding process that requires many hours of experience in their specific field (3 years or 6000 hours as an example), letters of recommendation, continuing education, case logs and case reports, as well as passing another rigorous examination. There are only about 700 VTS’s in North America. Becoming a VTS is a great way for technicians to advance in the veterinary field and to gain advanced skills and knowledge.

So, now that you know about the education level of RVT’s, lets delve into what they do all day at work. A technician will likely wear many hats during the course of a typical day. Legally, we are not allowed to perform surgery, prescribe medications or diagnose a disease or illness. These are tasks left to the Veterinarian. Aside from these, we perform the majority of patient care tasks. One of the biggest things that RVT’s do is induce, maintain and recover patients from anesthesia. When your pet has a dental cleaning, surgery, endoscopy, or any other anesthetized procedure, the anesthesia is likely done by an RVT. A technician will also be taking radiographs (x-rays), drawing blood, placing IV catheters, placing urinary catheters, performing dental cleanings, running laboratory tests, giving medications, educating clients,

assisting the veterinarian, and many more tasks. A RVT is similar to a human nurse and there is a push in our field to start calling all licensed or registered veterinary technicians, Veterinary Nurses. We will see if this change comes about.

A Veterinary Assistant does many similar tasks that a Veterinary Technician may do however, they have not completed a Veterinary Technology program or passed the VTNE. Legally there will be a few things that they cannot do, such as induce anesthesia, give rabies vaccines, give IV injections without an IV catheter, etc. Many Veterinary Assistants are very knowledgeable and experienced. I know that I could not live without the assistant on my team! They are equally as indispensable as Veterinary Technicians, but they do not share the same title or credentials.

I hope that this blog post has cleared up a little bit about what a Registered Veterinary Technician is and does. Next time you see the technician at your pet’s veterinary office, make sure to give them a big hug and a thank you for all of the personal care they provide to your beloved pet!

Winter Wonderland!

Winter Wonderland!

My littlest fur baby (Jensen a 1.5 year old Red Heeler) experienced his first snow last week, and it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. After running in and out of the room 3 times trying to get my attention, I finally got up to see what it was that he wanted. He ran to the living room and stood there growling in front of the bay doors that lead into the backyard. Curious, I got down to his level to see what he was growling at, there was nothing but giant snowflakes falling from the sky. I opened the door and he darted onto the patio, threw his head back, and howled! After a dramatic pause, he bowed to his new found toy, barked, and began to jump and snap at the air to catch these mysterious white flakes falling from the sky. I must have been laughing so hard because Jensen would pause to look at me, ears like satellites, head tilted to the side in wonderment at my silly noise making. His sisters, Sadie and Lola, joined him after a few minutes. They all continued frolicking around the yard making puppy angels, tossing the icy flakes around with their noses, and playing chase while bouncing around like little foxes in the snow.

As I played with my dogs in our little PNW winter storm, and after having to trick Jensen into going inside before he turned into a little pupcicle, I began to think about all of the things I needed to do to keep my dogs safe while playing outside in the cold/snow:

WATCH OUT FOR ICE! 

Here in the PNW we tend to get snow, then that all so lovely freezing rain. Be on the look out for ice patches when your pooch is outside as dogs can easily slip and break their bones or strain a joint just as people can. Also, be careful when walking your dog on a leash because when they slip on ice, you both may fall!

NO SNOW CONES FOR FIDO

As much as your dog may love eating the snow or catching flying snowballs, like my Jensen likes to do, this can prove to be unsafe for your pet. Antifreeze can smell sweet and taste even better to animals, but it is HIGHY TOXIC. Rock salt, while not toxic to your pet, can easily get mixed in with the snow and can cause an upset stomach. Lastly, eating large amounts of it can also dramatically lower your pooch’s core temperature and trigger hypothermia.

PROTECT THEIR PAWS

Some dogs are made for colder weather (i.e Huskies have thicker pads as well has coarser hair); however, if your dog is not designed for this, limit their time outside and be sure to dry their paws when they come inside. Treat any cracked pads with a moisturizer specifically made for your pooch’s pretty paws, or try a cream made for cow udders to sooth their pads. 

CLEAR SOME SNOW!

To make potty time quicker and easier, shovel an area where your dog likes to do their business so they know where to go (and your house stays piddle free). If they do have an accident in the house, try taking them out more often and rewarding them when they come back inside (essentially you will be potty training your dog again as this crazy white stuff falling from the sky is a new situation for them, which requires a new routine). 

GET MOVING!

If your pups are like mine, they require a ton of exercise! It can be difficult to get out and get moving with your dog when it is cold out; but, staying inside may lead to pent-up energy which can potentially lead to destructive or nervous behaviors! Once my dogs were acclimated to the cold and they were used to wearing their fancy new winter coats, we started back up on our regular walks and they have been spending more time outside each time they go out. When it snowed, I built Jensen a little obstacle course which he just loves and his sisters tried to destroy! If it is just too cold for your dog, try puzzle feeders, peanut butter or other treat filled Kongs, or simply playing hide and seek in your house; anything to keep them busy and entertained on these cold days!

There really is nothing more heartwarming than watching your dog play in the snow! Best of luck with our up coming winter storm! 

Stay toasty!

Erika S. 

Cardiology Assistant

 

Tech Talk – What Would You Do

What Would You Do?

At some point in our careers as veterinary professionals we will be asked by a pet owner: what would you do if it was your pet? Often, we are asked this question when a client (or family member, or friend) is trying to wrap their head around the disease or injury that has inflicted their beloved dog or cat. It can be troubling to weigh the options of a life saving surgery or the overwhelming details of chronic disease management. As someone who has worked in veterinary medicine for 10 years I can tell you that the decision is not always clear cut, even for those of us in the field.

A large driving force behind the decisions we make regarding the care of our pets has to do with the relationship we have with that particular animal. As an owner of four cats, a dog and a horse, I can tell you that I have very different relationships with each of them. I share a stronger bond with some and would address certain health issues differently with each one. For example, one of my cats is a very nervous and skittish creature, she hides most of the day and only comes out to socialize at night. You can’t reach down to pet her or pick her up without causing her distress. Because of this, I am not as closely bonded to Pearl as I am to my other pets. If Pearl is ever diagnosed with an illness that requires a lot of medical management and daily handling I do not know if we would be able to handle that level of care. She would be terrified as I tried to administer medications and treating her disease would put a huge strain on our delicate relationship. Now on the other hand if Pearl needed a life saving surgery (perhaps she gets a blockage in her intestine, for example) that procedure would likely be a one-time event. Once she was recovered from the surgery Pearl could return to her recluse ways and be happy in her solitude. In her case, I would likely opt for the one-time surgery than I would for something like Diabetes which could require twice daily injections and frequent veterinary visits.

I had an experience a few years ago where I chose not to pursue additional treatments and diagnostics for my cat Raspberry and instead opted for the hard choice of euthanasia. This was my first personal pet that I have had to make that final decision for. I adopted Raspberry when I was working as a veterinary assistant at an animal shelter. She came into the shelter with terrible skin disease that was proving hard to manage. After 3 months in the shelter and yet to be available to the public for adoption, I decided to foster her at my home. Long story short, she never went back to shelter and I officially adopted her some months later. Her skin allergies were always a problem (she wore T-shirts and little sweaters to keep her from scratching), and then down the road she also developed IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease).

For seven years I cared for Raspberry. She was the best darn cat, so sweet and easy-going, I loved her so much. She required many veterinary visits, medications, injections, x-rays, ultrasounds, special food but despite all that I believe she had a good quality of life with us. Her IBD was hard to control and it was a progressive disease, always getting a little worse. Towards the end Raspberry started to visibly look thinner and was vomiting more frequently, but she was still having more good days than bad. We continued to alter and adjust medications as necessary to keep her happy and comfortable. One night she was having some vomiting and I gave her some medication and separated her from the other cats so she could rest in peace (some times my other cats would bully poor Raspberry), I didn’t get too worried about vomiting since this had been an on-going issue.

The next morning when I woke I went to check on Raspberry, she was surrounded by little vomit piles, dehydrated, hypothermic and too weak to even stand. I rushed her into a 24-hour emergency hospital. I gave the vet her medical history and said that I didn’t want do any extensive diagnostics or imaging, just supportive care to see if we could get her through this episode. Despite warming up her body temperature, providing IV fluids, anti-vomiting medication, Raspberry was still very weak, she still had low blood pressure and started having an abnormal heart rhythm. At this point the veterinarian let me know that we needed to do some more diagnostics to help guide treatment, but at that point, after seven years of high maintenance care, I was done and I felt that Raspberry was done as well. I let the doctor know that I was instead opting for euthanasia.

I called my husband and he came down to the hospital, we were both there when Raspberry passed very peacefully in our arms. In the following weeks I struggled with regret, that I should have done more to try and save her. But once the acuity of her absence had worn off, I came to realize that I made the right choice for myself and Raspberry. In the months leading up to this event, she was declining. The vomiting was increasing in frequency despite medications and her energy and weight were trending downwards. I was emotionally drained even before she crashed and we don’t know what would have happened afterwards even if we had been able to pull her through the crisis.

I am sure there are plenty of pet owners who would have continued medical care in this situation, and that’s ok. I am sure there are plenty of owners who would have struggled to provide the long-term care that Raspberry needed, and that’s ok too. The decision to pursue treatment or surgery is so circumstantial, it can differ between pets, it can change based on financial situations, or on the amount of time and effort an owner is able to dedicate to at-home-care. So, my dear clients and fellow animal lovers, when you ask me what I would do in your situation, I will always answer you honestly. But just know, that the decision you make is entirely yours. You know your pet, you know yourself and what you are realistically able to handle. It’s never easy to make these medical decisions, but it’s the burden we bear for the love our furry family members.

Katie, BS, AAS, LVT

Patient Care Technician

Tech Talk – Surviving Pet Loss

On Saying Goodbye

A few years ago, I had to say goodbye to my beloved Great Dane “Jolie” after she was diagnosed with bone cancer. I adopted her at 8 yrs old knowing from the start that I wouldn’t have that long with her. The life span of Great Danes are typically 8-10 years, and I only was able to spend 3 wonderful months with her. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye so quickly, and it took me a while to move on from the loss.

Looking back at my memories with her, I still tear up knowing how happy I was those last months with her. It’s never easy having to say goodbye to a pet whether they’ve been your life long companion or only with you for a few months. Our pets become such a major part of our families that it’s hard to deal with the loss of a loved pet. Even though there is no right or wrong way to get over the loss, here are a few suggestions that could help you cope if and when you’re faced with such a situation.

For many, a pet is not simply a dog, cat, or reptile. Our pets are beloved members of the family, and when they pass away, you can feel traumatic loss. Much like when dealing with human loss, everyone grieves in their own, sometimes deeply personal way. Some find that grief comes in stages where they experience a series of feelings like denial, anger, guilt, depression, and eventually acceptance and resolution. Others find that grief is more cyclical, coming in waves or a series of highs and lows. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months, but for others, the grieving process can be measured in years.

Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the healing process to naturally unfold. Reaching out to others who have lost their pets can also help. Expressing your feelings with someone who truly understands what you’re going through can be a great alternative to holding feelings inside. It’s ok to cry or not to cry, but it’s also ok to laugh and find moments of joy.

If your friends or family members do not work well with the grief of pet loss, you can try other resources such as online message boards, pet loss hotlines, and grieving support groups. Other helpful alternatives include expressing your feelings in a poem or letter, telling a story about your pet, or rearranging photos and making a memorial collage.

Pet owners may ask the question, “Will my pets grieve?” Pets observe every change in a household and are bound to notice the absence of a companion. They often form strong attachments to one another, and the survivor may grieve for its companion. You may need to give your surviving pets a lot of extra attention and love to help them through this time. Maintaining their daily routine or even increasing exercise and play time will not only benefit the surviving pets but may also help elevate your own outlook too.

I hope this has provided some useful techniques for helping cope with the loss of a pet. I still miss Jolie, but I now celebrate her life and the joy she brought to me and others.

Kathryn

Surgery Assistant

Tech Talk – Diabetes and Pets

Dogs and Cats Get Diabetes Too!

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month for humans but also for our furry friends too! Many people are not aware that dogs and cats can have diabetes just like their human counterparts. While the disease process can be slightly different in pets, there are many similarities too. This article will provide a brief simplistic overview of canine and feline diabetes. Remember, if you suspect there may be an illness in one of your pets, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your family veterinarian!

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a disease that results in persistently elevated blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. In humans, this is caused by either a lack of insulin production from the pancreas (Type 1) or a developed insulin resistance (Type 2). Type 2 is the one typically linked with obesity, other disease process, decreased activity, and poor diet. Diabetes mellitus in a cat is more similar to human Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes of the dog is more similar to human Type 1 diabetes.

The most common symptoms in a pet with diabetes are excessive drinking and urination, weight loss and increased appetite. A complication of diabetes is a condition called Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). This is a very serious condition that may have symptoms such as depression, lethargy, anorexia and vomiting. This is most commonly seen in newly diagnosed diabetics or those with concurrent disease processes. As always, if you notice any abnormal symptoms in your pet, have them seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Your vet will first perform a physical examination on your pet and get a detailed history from you. They may want to run blood tests such as a blood glucose level and perhaps a full lab panel including a CBC, blood chemistry, electrolyte panel and urinalysis. They may also recommend a blood test called a fructosamine, which looks at the average blood glucose level over time. This is done to try to rule out influences such as stress that can artificially raise the blood glucose level as many patients are stressed at the vet clinic. They may recommend doing radiographs (x-rays), abdominal ultrasound, urine culture or other specialized tests. You and your doctor will come up with a plan specific to fit your pets and your family’s needs.

Once a diagnosis of diabetes is obtained, your doctor will likely recommend starting your pet on insulin therapy. This typically consists of twice daily subcutaneous injections of insulin, given after your pet eats a meal. Your veterinarian or their staff will show you how to give these injections and how to make it a positive experience for your furry friend! It is important to note that if your pet is not eating, you do not want to give them insulin as they may develop low blood sugar. If your pet is not eating, call your veterinarian right away for help. It is also important to make sure that the type of insulin syringe you are using, matches the type of insulin you are giving. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain the difference to you. There will be other details for them to teach you such as how to store and mix up insulin. Lifestyle and diet changes may also need to be made depending upon your pets case.

When your pet is first diagnosed there will likely be frequent visits to the vet to make sure they are on an appropriate dosage of insulin and are responding favorably. The majority of diabetic patients are easily managed by your family veterinarian. If they are having trouble regulating the blood glucose or your pet is still showing signs of illness, they may refer you to a specialist, such as an Internal Medicine Specialist.

When pets have difficult to manage diabetes, they often have concurrent underlying diseases that a specialist can help to uncover and treat. Controlling this underlying disease process can then help to control the diabetes in the long run. Occasionally, patients may go into remission and no longer insulin therapy. This is seen more commonly seen in cats. The majority of patients however will need lifelong insulin therapy and veterinary management.

Your dog or cat with diabetes can live a long and happy life with proper management from your veterinarian and of course, dedication from you!

Cheers to National Diabetes Awareness Month!

Lupe’s Story

A Thank You to the awesome team at Sunstone Veterinary Specialists:

Lupe first met Dr Su this summer when she developed a perineal hernia and was uncomfortable both peeing and pooping. Dr Su helped us put together a plan for two staged surgeries to get her back to health. The team members at Sunstone were always so kind and gentle with Lupe. They always made her feel safe and pampered, which is really how she likes things! Dr Su, Alicia, Sarah and the entire team at Sunstone always made me and my husband always feel cared for too. The professionalism, kindness, patience and compassion extended to us through this whole journey has been top notch. We are so thankful.

Lupe healed beautifully from her procedures and is back to being the queen of our household. She goes on walks to check her pee-mail and even goes to work several days a week to supervise or act as a greeter at the front desk. She is healthy, happy and sassy – all thanks to Dr Su and the team at Sunstone!

THANK YOU!!!

Katy Felton DVM and Alex Simpson CST

Tech Talk – Adopting Senior Pets

Why Adopt a Senior Pet?

Puppies and kittens are the best, right? They’re cute, cuddly, full of energy. Even just looking at a kitten makes my day a brighter and better day. Who wouldn’t want one? There’s another population of pet potentials that gets overlooked though and it’s unfortunate that every day in our communities, beautiful loving pets are being euthanized.  Why? They’re older, and because they’re older, they’re not considered adoptable. They’re passed over for those cute and cuddly puppies and kittens.

Most often, older animals are left behind in shelters as prospective adopters want a pet that they can raise and have for a long time. This means that older canines and felines have higher euthanasia rates than the younger ones, or are left to live the rest of their lives out in a shelter kennel. It’s a sad fact, but one that needs to be discussed.

November is a great month to bring awareness to this issue; it is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month! Any dog and cat 7 years or older is considered “senior.”  Walking into a shelter, you’re bound to see older dogs and cats sitting patiently awaiting a soft voice, a kind hand, or even a friendly glance, a glimmer of hope that maybe this is their day that they get chosen to be a part of a loving family.  They sit and wait, often scared, depressed, and almost always overlooked by potential adopters. Yet, ironically, they are often the perfect candidates for adopters; quiet, calm, housebroken, good with kids, affectionate and easily acclimated to a new home. They sit there patiently, waiting for someone to love them, until many times, it’s too late.  I know this is a depressing topic, but it’s a topic that has become more and more important to me.

There are definitely pros and cons to adopting an older pet, but the same goes with puppies and kittens. One hesitation for a lot of people is that they don’t want to get attached to an older animal because they’ll have fewer years to live out. But turn that around. Think about it. You can give that older sweet lab, or that geriatric skinny black cat or even the Chihuahua with the overbite who’s so ugly that he’s cute the best life for their remaining days. That could be one year, it could be five or even ten. The point is, these animals are just looking for love and a forever home. You would be saving a life that someone else threw away. You would be a hero to that animal.

Here are a few other reasons you should adopt an older pet:

-Older pets tend to be calmer than younger ones, which often make them easier to train. They are more mellow and relaxed and ready for a new home. Most senior pets are just happy sitting at your feet or curled up next to you on the couch, just happy to finally have a place to belong. This brings me to reason number two:

-Senior pets are great company for senior citizens. Many elderly people find the calm presence of an older pet very comforting. They don’t mind hearing the same stories over and over again and are content to move through life at a slower speed. The perfect pairing!

-Senior pets are typically less demanding. Older animals have their routines and, while they still love to play, they love to relax, cuddle, and nap as well. As a result, they tend to fit in more easily into your daily routine.  Senior pets also take the guess work out of a dog’s potential size, the nature of a cat’s adult personality, or the energy level of an adult. You get what you currently observe!

-Senior pets demand no huge lifestyle change. You don’t need to worry about kitten and puppy proofing your house and constantly training them. And older pets let you get a good night’s sleep! They don’t demand the time and attention that a younger dog and cat does and are satisfied with casual walks, cuddling, and a short play time.  Many senior pets will snooze the day away inside while you’re at work and are waiting calmly at the door for you when you return.

-Senior pets are stress relievers. Life can be hectic and studies have shown that animal guardianship can decrease blood pressure levels and reduce stress. Senior pets enjoy leisurely walks and gentle play, which will encourage you to take a nice stroll through the neighborhood even just for a few minutes on your busiest days.

-Adopted senior pets are grateful. Somehow, older pets seem to know you gave them a second chance, when no one else would. Many new owners form a close bond very quickly with their senior dog or cat, because the pet shows them a level of attention and loyalty that is unique in adopted animals. You have become that animal’s saving grace.

Those are just a few reasons why everyone should look into adopting a senior pet. Kittens and puppies are fun, but don’t overlook the senior pets; they need love just like puppies and kittens do. Love has no age limit.  Why not give them the best life possible? Adopting a senior pet changes not only their life for the better, but yours as well.

We are on the brink of the holiday season. What better time to provide a loving home for a shelter pet? Help one less animal spend the holiday season in a shelter. Be their Christmas miracle. You will be their forever hero.

Alicia, AA, AAS, LVT

Surgery Technician

Introducing Tech Talk!

We had so much fun blogging for Veterinary Technician Week, and the response from our friends and family was so warm, we’ve decided to make it a weekly event!

Every Tuesday, one of our amazing support staff members will post a short blog, giving us a glimpse into their jobs and life as technicians and assistants in the world of specialty veterinary medicine.

Our support staff has an especially amazing ability to connect and engage with our clients and patients, and we’d like to share that with you, our readers!

Veterinary Technician Week – Tech Talk with Katie O!

Why I Chose to be a Veterinary Technician

Often when I meet people for the first time and they discover that I am a Certified Veterinary Technician, the first question they ask upon hearing my job is: Do I plan on becoming a veterinarian? Or, did I want to be a vet? The short answer is: Nope.

I know that people are well intentioned in their interest of my job, but I wonder if they understand that by assuming I want to be a veterinarian they are discrediting my career choice (and I bet that I am not the only CVT who feels this way). I also wonder if our human counterparts in the medical world (i.e., nurses) get this type of question when discussing their career with new people? I would imagine that they get that question far less than veterinary technicians, who are essentially animal nurses.

My choice to become a vet tech was an educated one. I wanted a job that kept me busy and challenged me on a daily basis. I’ve always loved animals and have great empathy for them and their well-being, but it takes more than a fondness of furry creatures to be a career veterinary technician. I say ‘career’ because the sad truth is that most graduates of a veterinary technology program do not stay in the field for long (the average time working as a CVT is 5 years). In addition to my love of animals, I loved science, biology, anatomy and physiology. For me, those interests put me on the path for a career in veterinary medicine.

But WHY wouldn’t I want to become a veterinarian you ask? It seems like if you love animals you should WANT to be a DVM, but I did not have that desire. I wanted to provide the nursing care, collect the blood samples, run the lab work, use the microscope, place the IV catheters, monitor anesthesia, perform the ‘hands-on’ tasks with the patients. My job keeps me engaged and my duties can change daily depending on the needs of the animals I am caring for.

Another aspect of my job that I enjoy is connecting with the clients; addressing their concerns, answering questions, demonstrating how to give medications, or providing reassurances when their pet is ill or injured. When you first start out as a vet tech you do not realize initially how much of your job is actually working directly with people and not just the cats and dogs.

In summary, I love being a veterinary technician. Would I love my job if I was a veterinarian? I don’t know. DVMs and CVTs are complimentary, we work toward the common goal of increasing the well-being of our patients, there are times when our responsibilities overlap but we are not interchangeable. Veterinarians examine, diagnose, prognose, prescribe and perform surgery; all things that a CVT cannot do. But that does not mean that being a technician is ‘less than.’ It is a different job with a different skill set. I have heard some CVTs refer to themselves as ‘just’ a technician. But we are not ‘just a technician,’ we are a vital part of the veterinary medical team and we should be proud of our career choice.

Katie, BS, AAS, LVT

Patient Care Technician

Veterinary Technician Week – Tech Talk with Alicia!

Step Into Change Not Away From It

“Change can be scary, but you know what’s scarier? Allowing fear to stop you from growing, evolving, and progressing.” –Mandy Hale

The process of change can be hard and challenging. Leaving your comfort zone is scary, especially for someone like me who loves their comfort zone

In my career as a CVT, I have been extremely fortunate to have worked in an amazing general day practice for the past 8 years. I then transitioned to Sunstone Veterinary Specialists, an incredible specialty clinic, earlier this year. That was a hard and scary change for me for multiple reasons. It may seem like a small change to some people, but for me it was huge.

I have always been a general practice technician and I loved where I was. It was a super small clinic with 1 doctor, 1 technician, 1 receptionist, and 1 very spoiled clinic cat. Working at such a small clinic, they became my family. I developed a really special bond with the clinic cat, and that clinic became my life. You also develop friendships with clients and their animals, and when they come in as puppies and kittens, you get to see them grow up! That was something I was going to miss; the relationships I made along the way.

So when this opportunity presented itself to me, I was hesitant, and here’s why: Being a general practice technician was all I knew. As a GP tech, you deal with wellness exams, sick patients, vaccines, spays/neuters, ultrasonic scalings (dentals), mass removals, and emergencies here and there with more in depth surgeries sporadically thrown in. No day was ever the same and that was great. I loved it, but it also became a huge comfort zone crutch for me. I had a routine and I liked it that way.

But, I also knew I had so much room to learn and grow as a technician, which is another reason why I was hesitant to switch to a specialty practice. I’ve never worked at a specialty practice before. Would I catch on quickly? Would I fit in? What if I don’t do well? A lot of “what ifs” went through my mind. It was fear, fear of the unknown and we all experience this throughout life. A lot of the time, fear stops us from taking that chance and seeing what else is out there.

After thinking through everything, I did decide to take that leap of faith, and as hard as it was, I don’t regret it. I definitely miss my old co-workers and that crazy spoiled clinic cat, but life is about learning and growing. You need to change and step out of your comfort zone in order to grow in every aspect of your life.

I have learned so much already being at a specialty clinic, working in the surgery department, and have had some amazing surgery cases that I wouldn’t have had at a general practice. I have been able to expand my knowledge and skills as a technician, and I’m excited to see what else I can do to keep sharpening my skills. I’m developing new client relationships and I absolutely love my surgery patients! I am also very lucky to have gone from one amazing clinic to another. Everyone at Sunstone has been so welcoming and I am extremely grateful they gave me this opportunity. They have been nothing but kind, caring, and supportive throughout my transition.

Each and every day, I am learning to step out of my comfort zone and I encourage you to as well. It’s not easy, but you need to take chances. “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” Choose the option to step forward into growth – you never know where that may lead you!

Alicia, AA, AAS, LVT

Surgery Technician