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A Vet Tech Series: Meet Vicki Schuling and Steven Mazo


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. 

We are almost at the end of our celebration. Today we are highlighting Vicki Schuling and Steven Mazo. Vicki has become an 'installation' of Dixie Animal Hospital; having been a valued employee for over 38 years! Steven is one of our newest team members, who is passionate about all aspects of animal health, but especially bovine and other large animals. Both have unique insight into their 

Why did you choose this field?

Vicki Schuling (VS): When I was young, I used to raise horses in Colorado. We would meet a lot of large animal veterinarians which sparked my interest. Once my family moved to Miami, my father had a friend who knew Dr. Rainey. He asked on my behalf if they needed anyone and I've been with Dixie since just about 1971, minus a short stint away from '75 to '84.

Steven Mazo (SM): When I was in high school, I had aspirations to become a marine biologists. While studying, I joined the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and was exposed to large animals. I gained an affinity to large animals, especially bovine. Being in the city it isn't exactly easy to get into large animal medicine, so for the time being I am expanding my knowledge and experience through companion animal health.

What is a typical day for you like?

VS: As the early morning shift, I usually wake up around 2:30AM before my alarm has a chance to go off. I'm at the clinic by 4:00AM ready to start my day. During this time I am taking care of hospitalized pets and boarding pets, which includes feeding, walking, medicating and socializing. With the remaining time before opening, I am preparing the surgical area, dental area, restocking supplies around the clinic and other various odds and ends.

SM: I have a very far commute to Dixie. Usually, I wake up around 4:30AM to be able to arrive at work by 8:00AM. It's about a two-hour commute once I get moving, but it's been an excellent opportunity for me. Once I arrive I start out my day refilling pending prescriptions, double-checking the surgery set up and making sure we're ready to open. I monitor patients post-operatively and work on appointments throughout the day.

No job comes without challenges. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

VS: The technology age has changed the pace of working in the clinic setting drastically over the last 40 years. There was a time when everything was paper and pencil, and you didn't have to worry about computers. It was a simpler time, but with the number of patients and clients, technology has obviously streamlined what would be a massive undertaking with just the basic resources. I still struggle to get the computer stuff down, but I am continuing to learn all of the time.

SM: I have worked through many clinics so far, and I've come to find that no doctor performs medicine the same way. Each doctor has certain techniques and protocols that they would like us to adhere to, which leads to a pretty steep learning curve when experiencing different practice settings. That's not to say that any one doctor is wrong, but there are so many approaches to medicine that you have to prepare for different vantage points.

What has become the most rewarding aspect of your job?

VS: I have always been an animal lover since living on the ranch in Colorado. It is so rewarding being able to work with animals and bond with them; especially the temperamental ones. I seem to have a knack for corraling the more fractious pets.

SM: There is never a dull moment in our field. So long as there are appointments coming in, I find that there is always something new to learn and to maintain interest in the field.

What professional experience stands out among the rest for you?

VS: I recall one of my earliest experiences in the early '70s. We used to handle emergencies through the evenings. One night we had a patient who somehow took a weedwhacker to the shoulder area. It was completely mangled and looked like we would have to amputate. Dr. Rainey was still doing surgeries at the time and informed the owner that he could probably repair it, but there could be significant nerve damage. At that time we didn't know it, but Dr. Rainey performed a miracle I didn't think possible. Not only was he able to reattach the separated leg, but the dog recovered fully. In about one to two months, the dog was walking on that leg the same as he was before the accident. Truly amazing to witness.

SM: Something that has always stood out to me is the discrepancy in critical cases, such as parvovirus, between affluent and non-affluent areas. I've come to discover that in some areas, people haven't been educated on the proper handling and care of pets and aren't aware of the necessity for immunizations and preventatives. Pets take lots of time, money and dedication. 

This is the fourth in a series of Dixie Animal Hospital technician/nurse profiles that will run throughout the week in celebration of National Veterinary Technician Week.

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