From October 14th to October 20th we celebrate National Veterinary Technician Week. During this time we take a moment to highlight the behind-the-scenes work that our technicians and nurses perform on a daily basis. The theme of this year's Vet Tech Week is "Veterinary Nursing in Action". We have nine caring, compassionate technician and nurse staff who do the hard, dirty work that goes unnoticed each day. Join us as we highlight these excellent team members throughout the week.
Our second entry in this series goes behind the scenes with Liah Breuer and Matthew Weich. Liah has been with Dixie Animal Hospital since 2007 but has worked in the veterinary field for over 18 years. Matt began his veterinary journey with Dixie Animal Hospital and has been with us for almost 9 years. Their combined knowledge is an integral part of our learning system at Dixie Animal Hospital.
Why did you choose this field?
Liah Breuer (LB): When I finished high school, I orinally had plans to become a nurse and had starting nursing school, but I hated it. I needed something to fulfill that feeling of helping "someone", but not on the human side. At the time my brother worked as a veterinary technician and helped me to get a job as a receptionist in the vet clinic. That was 18 years ago and I haven't looked back.
Matthew Weich (MW): I've always been an animal lover. Before getting into the veterinary field I was a pet sitter for three years. My wife started working in the veterinary field which inspired and encouraged me to pursue it. When the opportunity came up to work at Dixie, I jumped at the chance.
What is a typical day for you like?
LB: Typically I come into the clinic and check for early morning administrative tasks. Sometimes the doctor adds a patient overnight that we aren't expecting or adds a treatment plan to a hospitalized pet, so I have to check for those notes in my emails. After that, we check to make sure everything is going well with our current boarders and hospitalized pets. We want to make sure all of our patients are in top shape. Once we've got a stable status in the lab, I usually start coordinating staff and maintaining organization of surgeries, appointments and other affairs.
MW: Usually when I arrive at Dixie I start my day by checking the appointment schedule and then the hospital sheet to get brought up to speed on any cases that might need attention. As one of the supervisors, I usually also use this time to check my administrative emails to see if I have any new tasks to work on. I maintain most of our social media accounts, so I check periodically for questions or posts and try to post positive, original content regularly. From then on I am usually out in the lab helping and supervising the nursing team.
No job comes without challenges. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
LB: My biggest challenge is getting too attached to patients and clients on a personal level. I love our clients and their pets, so much so that they become an extension of my family. It gets really hard to deal with when the tough decisions start coming into play.
MW: Euthanasia is a painful but necessary part of the role for anyone working in the veterinary field. I can deal with euthanasia by being cognizant that I am helping end an animal's suffering, but it is still hard to see the grief-stricken faces of the owners. Ultimately, you come to learn that the sadness within in the rooms is a testament to the good life that the pet had and the memories that the owner will cherish.
What has become the most rewarding aspect of your job?
LB: The obvious answer is that I feel accomplished when we are able to "fix" our patients. It's also rewarding to be able to work on healthy patients who are just here for routine visits or grooming. It gives us time to love and cherish them even more than usual!
MW: Being able to work with great doctors and nurses who really care about the patients. I feel most rewarded when I know we made a difference in an animal's health and life. It is also rewarding when I am out and about, and a client can recognize me and thank me for something we did for their animals. It always makes me feel appreciated and valued.
What professional experience stands out among the rest for you?
LB: When I was working at the Emergency vet, we had a dachshund that had been attacked by a group of larger dogs. The pet was pretty mangled and had wounds exposing very sensitive areas like the jugular. We didn't think there was any way the patient could make it, but we were giving it everything we had. After a week and a half of life-saving procedures, we were able to send home the pet happy and on the way to recovery with an extremely grateful owner.
MW: One morning my sister-in-law rushed her dog Tootsie into Dixie as they had just bit a Bufo toad and it was not looking too good. I grabbed Tootsie and ran to the dental area and began washing her mouth out while the other nurses were prepping to get an IV started and all of the standard medications drawn up. I truly believe if it wasn't for our quick actions, that my own sister-in-law's fur friend would not be here today.
This is the second in a series of Dixie Animal Hospital technician/nurse profiles that will run throughout the week in celebration of National Veterinary Technician Week.