To celebrate National Vet Tech Week this year, we had the pleasure of inviting some of our dedicated techs at AZPetVet to reflect and share their meaningful experiences with us. We met with Heather Bonaski (L&D Manager and certified Vet Tech), Angel Singleton (Vet Assistant training for Vet Tech), Sara Murphy (Vet Tech), and Ashley Franklin (Supervisor VT). Here’s what they had to say…
What Is a Veterinary Technician?
- Heather: They’re amazing; that’s what they are! In any veterinary facility, vet techs play one of the most critical roles. A CVT, or certified veterinary technician, has likely earned an associate degree or higher in veterinary technology from an accredited school and passed a national exam demonstrating specific knowledge and competencies. CVT training typically includes lab and clinical work with live animals. Anywhere there is a veterinarian on staff, you’re sure to find a vet tech serving as their right hand! We also want to take this time to recognize our awesome veterinary assistants who work alongside our techs and doctors to ensure a smooth-running clinic.
How long have you worked at AZPetVet?
- Ashley: I started when I was 16 so I’ve been here about 15-16 years now.
- Angel: A little bit over a year so far.
- Sara: 5 years! It’ll be 6 in January.
- Heather: I’ve worked with AZPetVet for seven years. I started at the Goodyear location as an extern in tech school and moved up to a CVT (Certified Vet Tech) and then into the role of a tech supervisor. I have also worked as a hospital manager at our Westbrook and Sarival locations before transferring into my current learning and development position in the business office.
For those wondering how to become a vet tech, what is your training/background?
- Sara: I actually have a background in fish husbandry and aquatic mammals. The company I worked for before ended up going under, so I sent my resume around and ended up getting hired at Roadrunner. I kind of started at the bottom, but AZPetVet does a really good job of moving people up through the ranks, so here I am 5 years later as a vet tech.
- Angel: My background is actually in human medicine, I am a retired Registered Nurse. After retiring, I decided that I like animals A LOT more (haha)! As far as training before, I had hands-on training through volunteer work, and was able to learn how to not only how to deal with the animals, but also how to deal with the humans as well, because as you know, at the end of every leash there’s a human (haha).
- Heather: The path looks a little bit different for everyone, but I’m a certified veterinary technician as well as Fear Free and Recovery CPR certified. I have an associate degree in veterinary technology and a bachelor’s in business. Between managing at our Westbrook and Sarival locations, I also taught veterinary assisting to junior and senior-level high school students. The more field exposure I get, the better. We’re always learning! Another way you can begin your career as a tech is as a Veterinary Assistant. Veterinary Assistants work alongside techs and doctors to gather history from clients, get vitals on patients, help with treatments such as ear cleans and nail trims. In addition, they run in-house lab work, help educate clients, and so much more! There are veterinary assisting schools, but at AZPetVet this can also be an entry-level position (with no schooling). We have training programs developed to help train these skills on the job! As assistants learn more they can also be promoted into non-credentialed veterinary technicians.
- Ashley: I started as a kennel tech, then became a vet assistant, then vet tech, and now supervisor.
Did you always know you wanted to work in this field?
- Heather: Yes! I’ve always known I wanted to go into the veterinary field. Like many others, my dream was to become a veterinarian as a child. However, as I got older, I realized that while I have a strong love for pets, I also have a great desire to guide and educate, which led me to my current role. Working at AZPetVet, I really get the best of both worlds.
- Angel: I have wanted to work in veterinary medicine for a VERY long time, but after seeing how much schooling was involved, I decided to choose the human medicine route at first. After trying different fields and still not feeling fulfilled, I decided to go back and follow my first passion!
- Sara: Well, I’ve always loved the ocean, I am probably the biggest fish person at AZPetVet. I always wanted to work with animals I just didn’t know what route I wanted to take; I thought maybe working at zoos or things like that might have been more my jam. But I really do just like talking to owners, I like being in the room and explaining what people need to know, and I don’t mind hearing the same question or explaining the same answer room after room after room.
What inspired you to become a vet tech?
- Angel: What inspired me was really seeing my own pets, and taking them to their appointments really piqued my interest.
- Ashley: Working with doctors like Dr. K, and working around exotics were things I have really enjoyed.
- Heather: That’s easy! My love for animals and science ultimately drew me to this field. It’s so rewarding to have a career that allows me to do both.
What is the most rewarding part about working at AZPetVet?
- Angel: The most rewarding part is definitely knowing that you are appreciated. AZPetVet does a great job of showing how much they appreciate us, which is very rewarding and refreshing.
- Sara: Seeing new pet parents who may be really overwhelmed at first, and really being there to talk to them and ease their fears, and seeing their stress wash off by the end of the visit.
- Heather: The most rewarding part about working at AZPetVet is the feeling that we’re all working towards the same goal of helping animals, whether that’s with the doctors and support staff in the hospital physically helping them or the team members in our business office helping the hospital and teams run more efficiently so that they can best care for their patients. It really feels like a family!
What does a veterinary technician do/what does a day in the life look like?
- Angel: If you’re opening, then you are getting up VERY early! You’ll show up before opening, get things set up, and prepare for all of our patients to come in. There’s a lot of interaction and getting patients prepped and checked in, bloodwork drawn, IV catheters, etc. You are really focused on setting the stage for the Veterinarian and making sure you are doing everything necessary for the pets.
- Sara: It depends on if you will be in surgery that day or in rooms with clients. If you’re in surgery, then you get to set the IV catheter, make sure everything is working, and help to get the pets under anesthetics. In surgery, it’s really neat because you never know what you’re going to see. When I was at Roadrunner, we did a jaw repair on a crocodile from the herpetological society. Here at Dove Valley, we do a lot of orthopedics. Once the surgery is done, you get to be with the patient throughout the rest of the day and be with them as they wake up – then move them over to their pet parents at the end of the day and let them know what happens.
Do you have any pets of your own?
- Sara: Yes, I have a chow, 2 one-eyed cats, a fish tank, and about 8 sulcata tortoises.
- Ashley: Yep, Miniature schnauzer and 3 horses.
- Angel: I do, I do; right now, we have 2 dogs and one brand new kitten! It’s the first kitten I have ever owned, so it has been a really neat experience. We also have my son and daughter-in-law’s 2 cats as well. So it’s a FULL HOUSE (haha).
Can you recall one of your funniest or most memorable moments at AZPetVet?
- Angel: One of the technicians was carefully restraining a patient, so I was petting the cat to calm its nerves… and as I was petting it, I realized that I wasn’t petting the cat, I was petting the technician’s HAND hahaha!
- Ashley: I think being promoted to supervisor because I had worked so hard for it and having the doctors there to support me throughout the process.
- Sara: Funniest would be when I was in the treatment area making a slurry of wet food for one of my patients, and when I was sucking up the slurry with my syringe, it got clogged. And from there, I don’t know why, but I decided to push it, and it exploded up, hit the ceiling and landed back on my head! I’m 90% sure there is video footage of that happening somewhere.
- Heather: I don’t know if I could pick just one funny or memorable moment to share. I have so many great memories working with AZPetVet, like the time a sugar glider jumped off of a tech’s head, or we created a music video from security footage of team members dancing, or helping with puppy c-sections. I’d say most moments at AZPetVet are memorable!
What is something we didn’t discuss that you think people should know about being/becoming a vet tech?
- Sara: It’s a hard field to be able to recognize your limits in because we are all so passionate. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because, at the end of the day, you are there for the patient and to give them the best care possible.
- Angel: In this role, you need to be patient with the pets and let them warm up to you. It’s important that they feel they are in a safe space and know we are there to help. Also, taking the time to collaborate and partner with the pet owners by taking the time to put yourself in their shoes, and see what they are going through from their point of view.
- Heather: This is such an amazing and ever-growing field. When I decided to become a vet tech, my whole life changed, and so many doors were opened to possibilities I could never have imagined. In my opinion, the veterinary field is the best place to be. We get to work with cute puppies and kittens, help heal furry (and not-so-furry) family members, and be there for people in need.
For National Vet Tech Week 2023, let’s celebrate the incredible work of veterinary technicians around the country. A HUGE thank you to Sara, Angel, Heather, and Ashley and all of our amazing AZPetVet vet techs for all you do every single day. You are appreciated!