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Category — Animal Healthcare

InspHERational Woman

Our first InspHERational woman is Melissa Adams! I know her through Jason,  a friend whom I’ve known for a few years now. I love some of her answers like “Knowledge is Power.” This is such a powerful statement. I also think Melissa is a true ENFJ, a teacher who loves to help others. The teaching aspect of her role, would definately make her stand out as an amazing Vet Technologist, and seeing people happy after she helps their pets get better. A true ENFJ quality! What I also love is that she ventures to work in different countries, giving her a global perspective. I think it’s a great story of knowing what you love, working to make ends meet, going to school, and then being able to do what you love after that.

Name: Melissa Adams

Your Current Role: Registered Veterinary Technologist

Company/Organization: Massey University Veterinary Teaching Hospital

What is your Myers-Briggs type? ENFJ

Why do you love your job?

I get to help people every day with the care of their pets and I get to be around animals all day. What more could a person ask for? It is really satisfying to see the happiness on people’s faces when they get to take home their pet that came in sick or injured and is leaving well. It makes me so happy to know that I was a part of that.

Range of pay for a person in your job position/year:

This often depends widely on the position being offered and the amount of experience a person has. Small animal clinics (in Canada) will often begin by paying a new graduate $13.00/hour, but with experience raise that as high as $20+/hour. Research type jobs often start around $20-25/hour again depending on the position and experience.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Can you let me know the story of how you got to where you are in your career?

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­After graduating the Vet Tech program in Canada, I worked at a feline-only practice for four years where I specialised in cat care and worked my way up to head nurse. After learning about other people’s adventures overseas, I decided to change jobs and move to New Zealand where I have been working as a vet nurse in the veterinary teaching hospital for the past couple of months. Since joining this new team, I have begun specializing now in emergency and critical care and taking care of the intensive care unit (ICU).

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­What are your passions?

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­I am passionate about learning new skills and techniques related to my job. I absolutely love teaching people some of the skills I have learned over the years as a vet tech and also sharing knowledge with pet owners to be able to better the life of their pet. I am a firm believer that knowledge is power.

Give me the real lowdown of your work experience. Does your work experience, since you were young, reflect your passions or did you have to chip away and discover them (your diamond in the rough)?

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Ever since I was a child watching Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures, I knew I wanted to work with  animals. Deciding which area was best suited for me was just a matter of research to find out what the different careers entailed. I did not get any work experience with animals before going to Vet Tech School. I was working at the typical teenager minimum wage job in fast food until I finished school. So, not all of my jobs reflected my passions of the animal world.

When I first graduated college, it was easy to discover the passions of learning new skills and making that commitment, but it was not for a couple of years after I started working as a vet tech that I discovered my love for helping others learn about pets and some of the techniques used when working with them, especially with the often misunderstood cat.­

Tell me about your educational training and what sacrifices you had to make, if any, to obtain it:

­­­­­­­­I did a three year veterinary technology program at St. Lawrence College in Kingston. Having grown up in Ottawa (a 2.5 hour drive away from school), it meant leaving my family and friends for the first time and living on my own in a new city. Although it was difficult to move, it was one of the best things to happen to me. It really opened my eyes to the real world and gave me a chance to meet new people, try new things and “fend” for myself.

 It’s 7am! Give me the scoop on what your typical day is like (the glamorous and not so glamorous parts):­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

The wonderful thing about where I work is that there is a large team of people who take turns on the different shifts. So, one week I may be the treatment room nurse, another week the medicine nurse and so on. This week I am the ICU nurse and so I start work at 8:30am. I arrive and check to see if the ICU patients need anymore treatments and then I clean the floor from overnight and restock the shelves with syringes, needles and other supplies.

At 8:45 I attend nurse’s rounds where all of the hospital nurses meet to discuss the cases arriving that day. Throughout the day, I monitor the animals in the ICU for signs of distress, pain or during their recovery from anaesthesia and surgery. Sometimes there are only a couple of patients and some days all 14 kennels are in use!

The ICU and Emergency and Critical Care are also my area of interest, making me responsible for the equipment and protocols for that room. I meet with the Veterinarian in charge of that room to introduce new procedures and to run CPR refresher classes with the staff and students. Luckily, it is not very often that an animal needs CPR, so we like to practice on a teaching model to keep our skills sharp.

As animals leave the ICU, I clean their kennel and get it ready for the next patient. If I ever have to leave the room, I give a thorough hand over to the next person about every patient in the room, their condition and needs.

During the school year, the final year vet students are there as well and I help them with their procedures and I teach them different skills. I also have a vet nursing student who I teach how to run the ICU and to care for a critical care patient. At 5pm I leave for the day.

What do you WISH YOU KNEW at 18 that you now know with regards to your CAREER?

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­I wish I had known that nursing is not all glamour and excitement all the time. There are a lot of positions that include cleaning and taking care of the machines and tools that are used by the veterinarians and staff. I think a lot of people start nursing and find this out and do not like it, so they move on to a different career. There are days where you do get peed on or stepped on or bitten or scratched… it’s just part of the job.

The other thing I wish I had known, was that vet nursing is not a career to go into if you do not like to converse with people. After all, pets have owners, and a large part of working with the pets, is working with their owners. The owner decides if you get to treat his/her pet, so good communication skills are a must.

How does your chosen job IMPACT your community and the WORLD?­­­­­­­­­­­

Working at a Veterinary teaching hospital, my skills as a nurse and teacher will affect the skills of new graduate veterinarians and veterinary nurses. I am one person who helps them learn new techniques or new ways of doing old things. Their experiences in the hospital may directly impact their decisions about their own careers and areas of work.

Veterinary Nursing, in general, is currently not recognised as greatly as human nursing in some countries; however, it is growing and starting to be seen as a real profession that requires more skill and knowledge than initially thought. Veterinarians respect our skills and clients are beginning to see that they can rely on the information being given to them from the nurses and not always needing to speak with a vet. Veterinary nurses work all over the world in clinics, research and charity projects. Being a vet tech/nurse is simply not just limited to working in a vet clinic anymore. It is so much more exciting and the possibilities are endless.

What are the best RESOURCES you’ve found for:

  1. A person RESEARCHING to earn a diploma in Veterinary Technology?

– The Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians     http://www.oavt.org/

– The Canadian Association of Animal Health Technologists     http://www.caahtt-acttsa.ca/

– International Veterinary Nurses and Technicians Association   http://www.ivnta.org/

University and College course catalogues. Every course has different focus points. By reading the different course outlines, a person can chose which program they are most interested in. For example, my course was a 3 year course with a focus on research skills, but there are other schools with a focus on large animal medicine or even dentistry.

Another great resource is going to a reputable vet clinic and speaking to the technicians there. They have gone to these schools and can often recommend a school that has the best reputation for that program.

2. The best COMPANIES/ORGANIZATIONS for a person working in veterinary technology?

Depending on the area of interest. If wanting to work in research, the best places are often universities that have large labs and research projects. If wanting to work in a vet clinic, I would generally recommend choosing a clinic where you feel you will fit in best. Small animal vet clinics tend to have fewer staff members and so you want to make sure you will be comfortable working with everybody there. If wanting to work with exotics, again universities or well known zoos will likely be your best bet.

What are the 5 most important skills to excel at this job?

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­1. Good communication skills

2. Willing to try new things, or old things in new ways

3. Fearlessness (with regards to fractious animals)

4. Positive attitude

5. Assertiveness

November 13, 2009   No Comments