Jade Velasquez is a practice manager at a general practice in Gig Harbor, Wash. She uses her writing and speaking to reach veterinary professionals with her unique view on veterinary medicine. In 2014, she created a Facebook group, Veterinary Support Staff Unleashed, to boost positivity and create dialogue in order to inspire open communication in the field. Jade is also a regular contributor to the NAVTA Journal. At DrAndyRoark.com, her writing has generated some of the most viewed and well-received articles on the website.Read Articles Written by Jade Velasquez
I have been fortunate to have worked in several areas of veterinary medicine. I’ve worked in emergency medicine and general practice. I’ve worked in corporate and private practice. I have pointed my way to supervisory positions and recently become a practice manager, although I will never give up using my skills as a licensed veterinary technician. Every step I took on my path to vet med has pushed me to become who I am meant to be.
Veterinary medicine has its ups and downs. I have experienced times when I wanted to give up and wasn’t sure if this profession was right for me. I’ve had periods of burnout, compassion fatigue, and struggle. These times felt all-consuming, and I honestly wasn’t sure if I would bounce back from them. Somehow, I always did. Sometimes it took making changes or looking at my situation realistically. It meant looking at myself realistically. In those moments when I questioned my path, I looked for the reasons that I became a veterinary technician. We all have reasons that we push forward and continue to contribute to this amazing profession. I ask myself during these difficult times, What are the motivators in vet med that move me?
We Never Stop Learning
Education doesn’t end when we finish school. We learn every single day. We learn new techniques and concepts. Medicine is always evolving. We learn from the cases that we see in our clinics. Our understanding of medicine is enhanced by the patients we care for. Our communication skills grow by interacting with coworkers and clients. We learn new ideas and ways to do things from the people we work with. We have access to a wide array of veterinary support network message boards, journals, and continuing education activities.
When we view our role in the veterinary community as an endless path to obtaining new facts, ideas, and concepts, we can see that our profession has a variety of opportunities. We can learn about emergency medicine, large animals, laboratory medicine, shelter work, or even teaching. We can obtain specialty certification in anesthesia, dentistry, internal medicine, animal behavior, and others. The list of specialties is growing, and each of them gives us the opportunity to learn and share our knowledge (for the complete list of specialties, see Inside NAVTA on page TK).
We Make a Difference Every Day
Whether we are obtaining an admitting history, running diagnostic tests, monitoring anesthesia, or administering treatments, each individual action is making a difference in a patient’s life. We are healers and truly play a part in everyday miracles. That IV catheter we place allows a patient to receive fluids and medications that will help regulate electrolyte abnormalities, treat systemic infection, eliminate pain, or maintain blood pressure. Every vaccination we give allows a patient to build an immunity against potentially life-threatening diseases.
We are making a difference in a client’s life by being educators, by being compassionate, and by listening. When we discuss medicine with our clients, we have the opportunity to impart our wisdom. When we discuss preventives, behavior, husbandry, and diet, we give our clients the tools they need to be the best pet owners that they can be. By showing empathy when patients are severely ill or clients have to consider euthanasia, we are allowing them to understand that nursing care comes from the heart and isn’t just based on the technical aspects of our job. By listening, educating, and empathizing, we create memories that our clients will not forget. We may not always receive recognition, but every action we do and every interaction we have hold weight. They make a difference.
We Can Mentor
When we share our knowledge with our coworkers, we can truly encourage them on their path to who they want to become. Looking at guiding and growing our team isn’t just the role of management. Everyone in the clinic can help teach, encourage, and share skills with the team. Often, we don’t realize that even the words we say can inspire someone. Seeing the light in someone’s eyes when they have learned something new can be one of the most rewarding parts of our job. Lending a listening ear or kind words to our teammates can make a profound impact on their day.
We all have something to teach. Whether we are a seasoned veteran or a new graduate, there is something we can share with our team to make them better. By investing patience, time, and knowledge in the people we work with every day, we can promote and encourage the culture we want. When we take the time to mentor someone, we are not only teaching those being mentored; we are also learning ourselves.
The Sky Is the Limit
There are so many opportunities to create the career you want. You can be a technician in a general practice, emergency, or specialty clinic. You can obtain a specialty; you can investigate working at a laboratory or a pharmaceutical company. You can work as a relief technician on an independent contractor basis. You can create a business or service that contributes to the profession. You can research the steps needed to begin teaching at a college or university. Maybe you could branch into speaking or consulting.
Often the hardest part is just taking the first step. Network at conferences and continuing education events. Become involved in state or national associations. Get involved in the aspects of veterinary medicine that you feel passionate about. If you aren’t happy doing what you are currently doing, create a game plan to get to where you want to be. Then make it happen!
Overall, the field of veterinary medicine is constantly progressing. We get to learn, grow, change, and seize opportunities constantly. Never once think that your job is mundane or that what we do doesn’t matter. There will be difficult points in every career, but few careers offer the education, victories, and joys that ours does. Make these your reasons you get up and do your best every day. Every morning when you wake up, ask yourself what it is that moves you.