Do you ever have to defend your profession to relatives at Christmas? Vet techs, do you ever have to explain why you’re not a vet? Or how you’re not only a nurse, but so much more?
Vets, do you have to explain yourselves as to why you’re not a practice owner, or how what you do involves a lot more finesse than what a general doctor does? Or how you’re also a dentist as well as an emergency doctor, as well as general practice doctor?
Every year my very German Grandmother comes to Canada for Christmas. And every year she asks me what I do, and every year we have the following conversation.
Kat: ‘Grandma, I’m a vet tech. I work overnight in an emergency hospital for animals’ (This year I added that I also work for Smart Flow, which was even harder to explain)
German Grandma: ‘So you’re a nurse for animals?’
K: ‘I’m not just a nurse. I also take blood and run the bloodwork and look at it under a microscope to help the vet diagnose illnesses. I take xrays, I wrap wounds, I monitor anesthesia, I fill prescriptions, I give injections, I take care of in hospital patients, I do dentistry things when necessary, I assist in euthanasias, I hold client’s hands when they’re saying goodbye to a family member, and I console hurt and wounded animals when they need to stay in clinic for the night. I assist in births, I am the go between sometimes between clients and vets, and then during the night I clean the entire clinic by myself when the vet goes to bed’.
GG: ‘That isn’t possible, you were only in school for 2 years. In human medicine you have to go to many different schools if you want to be able to do all that, and there is no way a client would trust you to monitor their pet under anesthesia if you weren’t a doctor. There is no way you do all that, so what is it that you do?’
Typically this is when I get frustrated, and my German capabilities give out and I’m no longer patient enough to explain what it is that I do for a second time. So I go silent and concede that she’s right, I’m essentially a nurse for animals. Which is close enough. (also I’m chicken and she’s scary, but what can ya do?)
Truth be told, I can see it from her perspective, too. My Grandma is very old school, and also very German. She has not had many animals in her life, and therefore has not had much interaction with veterinary professionals. Where on earth my animal loving, ‘must adopt everything that needs a home’ dad came from, I will never understand. Potentially his ‘I don’t care that I’m allergic to cats, I must have 8 million of them’ wife. But I digress.
At the end of the day, human medicine is very different to animal medicine. There is a lot of different, and sometimes more extensive, education involved. And it makes me sad that I still need to defend myself by saying that yes, I sure can learn the foundations of being a vet tech in two years! But human vs animal medicine is whole other discussion that we won't get into today.
Bottom line is, you know what? I’m so happy to be a vet tech. I’m proud to be a million things in one. I’m proud that I’m a care taker, an anaesthesiologist, a dental hygenist, a radiographer, a pharmacist, a dietician, a lab technician, a physiotherapist and a psychologist all in one.
I’m a veterinary technician, and proud of it!
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please comment below, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! I'd love to hear what you think! (maybe some hints on what I can tell Grandma next year?!)