by Vickie Byard, CVT, VTS (Dentistry)
I arrived home last night around 9:30 pm from 3 days in lovely Reno, Nevada while presenting, moderating and purely enjoying myself at the Wild West Veterinary Conference. Not only did I bring home a plethora of precious and memorable moments, but I also brought home a souvenir….a cold. Therefore, I sit here in my office typing through a Nightquil haze.
What was that experience like? Well, I have been very excited about this specific trip for months. I was traveling with Tasha McNerney, BS, CVT. She is a technician that works with me clinically at Rau Animal Hospital and she is a trainer for PetED Veterinary Education and Training Resources. She is the new In-patient Supervisor and her special interest is in all things anesthesia. She has been the energy behind the extraordinary anesthetic protocols and anesthetic training at our practice. She, too, had a goal of growing her career into teaching on a larger scope and her aspirations are coming true, rapid fire.
As we were flying out, I was well aware of the gift I was experiencing. I remember the day we hired this young lady, as a technician assistant, beginning her veterinary technician training, teaching at the school after graduation and her never-ending honing of her skills. With the support of the practice owner, she has single-handedly taken our anesthesia department to unexpected heights with unparalleled standards of care. Now, I was on a flight to Nevada where she will be spreading that knowledge to others from all over the country. What an honor it has been to walk with her as she realized her dreams.
This made me drop into an awareness. I realized that all of these accomplishments have been done while managing her day-to-day life; marriage, new home, pregnancy, new baby and more life. My awareness deepened to the rest of the practice team and what was crystal clear is how the entire team of technicians perform their day-to-day work in spite of life; day care, illnesses, moving, relationship break-ups, elder care, new apartments, single motherhood, broken hot water heaters….life.
Then my focus broadened to the fact that nationally, technicians perform with dedication and loyalty for compensation not worthy of their efforts. So, why do these spectacular people keep coming back? They do it because they know they were born to do this work. They were called to help those that can not help themselves, the animals. They are not what the public perceives; a glorified poop scooper and animal handler. They are the people that placed the arterial line that helped save some battered dog’s life. They are the people that kept the rat pain free and healthy while it was employed to help produce the medication that saved someone’s child’s life. They are the people that maintained the health of the Belgian Malinois named Cairo that helped the Navy Seals in Operation Neptune Spear. They are frequently unsung heroes.
I have witnessed technicians hand feeding a patient that bit them only an hour before. I have come into work only to find that a technician came into the practice at 2 am to check up on a patient needing overnight care whose owner could not afford a 24-hour facility. I have seen technicians drive to the homes of disabled clients to drive them to their vet appointments. I have seen technicians foster pets that have been abandoned. I have seen technicians miss appointments and dates because there were surgical complications negating their ability to leave on time. I have also seen technicians hold each other up, in good times and bad. I have witnessed technicians working an extra shift because another tech has a concert to go to, or an unexpected funeral.
As I stood in the NAVTA (North American Veterinary Technician Association) and VSPN (Veterinary Support Personnel Network) Technician Reception, I was so aware that, despite the fact that I was surrounded by strangers from around the country, I was in the company of 400 or more of the most incredible and loving people that do the most incredible and loving things on a day-to-day basis. My heart expanded as I looked into their faces knowing that each and every one of these people have made sacrifices to do that which they have been called to do. I was overwhelmed to be in the presence of such humility.
Veterinary technicians not only work in veterinary practices. They are technician educators. They are the caretakers of the animals used in laboratories, in zoological parks, in the military and they often volunteer their time at shelters, fostering rescued pets or traveling to countries at their own expense to provide veterinary care to animals that would never otherwise receive care. Veterinary technicians wear many hats.
As I sit here, nursing this head cold, I find it is hard to feel sorry for myself when I have been blessed to be a part of such an inspiring group of people.
There is a ancient Sanscrit word. It means, the Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you. That is how I would like to close. To all technicians this week; “Namaste'”!