The 2016 NAVC Conference theme is “What Moves You?” On the surface, this may seem like a simple question. Take a moment to think about it, though. Is it what inspires you? Or who? Or where you’re going? Or all of the above?
Of course, like so many veterinary technicians, animals “move me.” As far back as I can remember, I have always loved and wanted to work with animals. One of the first experiences that convinced me I had made the right career choice in becoming a veterinary technician was the “adoption” of my cat Rhubarb. I was on my way home from a double shift in the ICU at the veterinary hospital at Michigan State University (MSU). I was exhausted and questioning my new career. It was pouring rain, the roads were quiet…and in front of me, I saw someone throw what looked like a stuffed animal out of a car window. As it turned out, the “stuffed animal” was a wee calico kitten. I scooped her up and took her back to the hospital, where we worked with her all night, all the while thinking how cruel people can be to animals. Rhubarb was covered with fleas, cold, and malnourished. But she rallied and survived and became the funniest, most loving cat, warming my life for 18 years. Helping her, I knew I had found the right profession. (I also became a crazy cat lady, adopting multiple cats abandoned by others.)
But there’s another aspect to “what moves you” that’s equally important. It’s the part where someone takes the time to encourage you, teach you, and show you it’s possible to follow the feelings in your heart and make them reality. The first person to move me in the direction of my dreams was my uncle, a veterinarian. As a child, I was afraid of my uncle because we always seemed to visit him when he had a white coat on and a syringe and needle in hand. As a young adult, I spent summers working in his veterinary hospital. An MSU graduate, he had learned of a new MSU program for veterinary technology. For various reasons, I didn’t really want to be a veterinarian; however, I did want to work with animals. So off I went to MSU and never looked back!
Both what is in my heart and the people who help make my dreams bigger than I ever imagined loom large in my life. So do the opportunities that have appeared, sometimes seemingly randomly, through my relationships. After I proudly received my LVT degree, I worked in a small animal practice. An opportunity arose to train others when the veterinary teaching hospital at MSU created veterinary technician teaching positions. I taught veterinary technician and veterinary students in the medicine and ICU wards. Later, I took a research position with a cardiologist, moving to University of California-Davis. Then I went into industry, first with IDEXX and then with Pfizer Equine, where I learned the meaning of networking with mentors and colleagues. I moved with the chances presented to me, which allowed me to change and grow. Ultimately, that resulted in me working with the NAVC, starting in 1990, and becoming not only the first veterinary technician to sit on the Board of Directors, but also, eventually, President in 2013. What moved me then was working behind the scenes of an amazing conference and continuously striving to make the attendees’ experience better every year.
At the NAVC, I am constantly amazed by the ongoing growth and expansion of the learning opportunities we provide to all members of the veterinary healthcare team. That’s what moves us. The NAVC listened to veterinary technicians’ special needs for education, recognition, and career growth. The cornerstone of our response is this journal. When I was presented with the offer of leading it, I jumped at the chance. With this first issue of Today’s Veterinary Technician, we are adding a voice for an important community of veterinary healthcare providers who are arguably the backbone of the profession. You!
I am a veterinary technician, just like you, and I remain amazed at how veterinary technicians and assistants make great practices possible by doing the endless job of nursing, adapting to changes in technology and medicine, and constantly improving ourselves and our profession. There is no great care for animals without us. We should be proud and loud.
As with mine, your passions might change over time, so what passion moves you? Tell us your story. Raise your voice, share, and be heard. I want this journal to be our collective voice with all the good, the bad, and the messy (literally!) parts we live through every day. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you think, whether about your educational and professional needs or about your feelings regarding the issues we face today. Give the NAVC the chance to raise awareness of the work we do supporting veterinarians and caring for and about animals. This journal is our gift to you, but it can’t grow without you. Sign up today to get your own copy. Tell your colleagues. Let us hear you!
What moves me today? It is much more than just my lifelong love of animals; it is being part of a profession that continues to grow and thrive in the service of animals everywhere. What moves me today is all of you. What moves you? ◼