Ins & Outs of Being a Veterinary Technician by Jackie Gravel, AHT

If you ask any veterinary technician at the Morinville Veterinary Clinic, you would be happy to hear that we love our jobs. After all, why would we be working in this field of work if we did not love it?  As much as we love our jobs there can be silly pitfalls that can sometimes make us go “UGH!”  I have compiled a short list of the lovely every day pros and cons of being a Veterinary Technician. Don’t worry, I am not going to get into the heavy stuff that goes on at MVC, it’s all about the little things in life!

In #1– Being able to come in to work at 7:30 am with your warm coffee and seeing a cute little puppy that was very sick yesterday is now sitting in his kennel wagging his tail and bouncing ferociously at you with excitement saying “Good Morning!!”

Out #1– Once you turn on all the lights you realize that super cute little puppy wagging its tail has, taken off his cone, dumped his food and water bowls and also left you a smelly surprise in the back of his kennel that is now all over his face and paws! By the time you get him all cleaned up and into a clean kennel and deal with the gross, dirty kennel, your coffee is as cold as the -40C blowing winter cold you just came in from.  No coffee for you this morning!

In #2– There is a little kitten that came in today for a vaccine appointment. You notice that there is a bunch of coffee ground like dirt in its little ears and it is very itchy! You take a sample of the dirt-like grossness out of the kitten’s ear to look at it under the microscope to find ear mites.  Jackpot! Yes, these are things that technician’s get excited about. You know it’s a relatively easy treatment, so you get started.

Out #2– You take the little kitten to the treatment area and wrap it in a towel and find someone to hold it.  You squish ear cleaner in both ears and start to clean the little guy’s ears.  This is normally a very satisfying job and makes the kitties feel much better. Unfortunately for you, today you have got the kitten that really doesn’t  think so.  The little guy screams a deafening scream that sounds like we are torturing him and it’s a frenzy of razor-sharp nails and flailing legs as the formerly sweet and innocent kitten is transformed into a biting, screaming demon that just escaped from you and used your chest as a launch pad to fly across the room to get away from you. As a properly trained technician, your first instinct is to try and grab the animal before it makes the mad escape towards a giant German Shepherd, but the kitty scratches and bites your hands and arms in the process. All while thinking I am sure that taking its chances with the 100 lb dog (salivating at the thought of a snack) is better than having that gunk in his ears.  The veterinarian comes out of the room and scoops up the little kitten like its nothing and now you feel like an idiot, and you’re bleeding and can’t believe that that bundle of cuteness is capable of all that fury!

In #3– One of the best parts of the job is that you have a lot of cool lab equipment at your disposal and you get to use it on a daily basis.  When you look through the microscope on the perfect setting at the perfect light and you can see little tiny microorganisms that make you feel like such an awesome brainiac (those CSI people could take lessons from us; after all they are just actors! We actually know what we’re talking about.)

Out #3– You have one of those off days when you’re the clumsiest technician there ever was to be.  You struggle to make a perfect blood slide you’ve got tiny pieces of glass stuck in your fingers from the many broken slides. Finally, a half-decent blood slide after way too many attempts. Then you turn to the microscope and it’s not set correctly; there is microscope oil on things that should never be oiled and you cannot seem to get it focused. How are you supposed to look like a more awesome version of a CSI agent when you’re all frazzled and cannot seem to work a simple piece of equipment?

In #4– The cat that has been constipated and not feeling well for the last 5 days has finally had a bowel movement and ate a bit of food – You will never see a group of grown people so happy… it is like one of them won a lottery!

Out #4– The cat just had a very large bowel movement and seemed to completely neglect that the litter box was right beside him and has now a pretty surprise all over his kennel and his bum and it smells like cat poop. (Not quite the lottery reaction here)

At the Morinville Vet Clinic, it is always an adventure. One day you feel like everything is going your way and you are the greatest and cleanest technician there ever was. Then the next day you are covered in poop, blood and urine and very smelly! It is a humbling job that keeps your feet on the ground ready to run into the next thing that walks into the door.  The pros always outweigh the cons and some days, you can even finish your coffee before it gets cold!