Titles schmitles

This is a vent and one of my biggest pet peeves.  Kind of ironic too since this pertains to me also,  I’ll explain.

(let me get comfy in my rocker before I begin)  BACK IN THE YEAR 1988 when I started my first job at a veterinary hospital,   I had zero experience.   None.   I just saw the advertisement in the classified ads and figured I’d give it a shot.   The business was only a few blocks away from my home so I figured it would work out a lot better rather than getting another job at the mall a few miles away.  I had just come off a holiday hiring at See’s Candy and was so stuffed full of free chocolate that the mere thought of working around food again made me ill.     I remember walking into that interview dressed sloppily in some jeans, a top,  black boots and in a thick black corduroy (yes, you read that right)  trench coat.  I was young and had no interviewing experience, and maybe it was because I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting the job.  Whatever the reason,   I sat there and acted like I knew what I was talking about and did a terrible interview,  but to my surprise the doctor must have seen something in me because he hired me anyway.

Boom..!

I was a bright, new,  shiny ‘kennel attendant’.   Talk about a dramatic change of pace,  I went from working fast food/retail to being in a medical environment.

The pecking order at my first job was very VERY different than what things are like today.     There were the:

Veterinary Technicians:    They had the title, the schooling, the experience and the LICENSE that backed up that title!   Considered  ‘second in command’ to the doctor, they had the biggest responsibility in the veterinary hospital.   The doctor relied on the technician to ensure that everything was running smoothly at all times.   Patients were admitted,  cared for, medicated, catheterized, fluids checked, etc etc etc   They prepared the patients for surgery so all the doctor had to do was gown up, scrub in and walk into the surgery room to do the procedure.  They pulled up all the drugs the doctor requested,  had a close eye on every patient in the hospital at all times and reported back to the doctor with progress reports, questions, input,  whatever.   The first technician I ever worked with was named Tess and she knew her job almost flawlessly.    She would move non stop all day in her routine helping our doctor with appointments and procedures,  often even being one step or so in front of the doctor when it came to getting the things he needed for his patients.  (“Oh, Dr Smith usually needs this medication and this medication for an ear infection”    or   “Dr Smith likes to do the spay surgeries first so they have the longest time in the day to recover so I’ll get them prepped first” )  I have to admit, I was in awe watching how they worked together.  I would pause a little bit between cage cleanings and watch them, realizing finally that I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my working career.

Veterinary Assistants:  The ‘second pair of hands’ of the vet hospital.   Their main job was to help the technicians achieve their missions throughout the day which was   mostly restraining/holding animals, holding off veins, helping with xrays, and cleaning up after surgeries and any other prep mess that is left behind.   They didn’t get to DO any of the cool stuff but they were exposed to it by being able to assist the tech.    Usually veterinary assistants were up and coming technicians trying to get hands on experience so they could move on and go to school.   Sometimes if a student was doing an on job training they would get to closely follow, assist and often perform certain technician duties but only if directly supervised.

Kennel attendants:  those that did the cleaning around the hospital.   Cleaning cleaning cleaning.   Vacuuming, sweeping, mopping,  and cleaning out kennels and cages.  Occasionally walking dogs into the gated yard.    Sometimes they even did bathing of the animals too!  Back in the day before there was decent topical flea and tick prevention there was horrible chemicals you’d pour on your pet called ‘dip’.   It stank and was ridiculously expensive but people got them for their pets because they hated fleas more than anything.   My first summer at that place I must have easily mixed up 100 gallons of that disgusting toxic swill.   That was pretty much it though when it came to contact with the animals.   If we weren’t moving them and cleaning up after them,  we were bathing and dipping the fleas off of them.   It wasn’t glamorous work but it needed to be done.    You rarely saw the kennel attendants anywhere around the treatment area or surgery room.   Every vet hospital needed a maintenance crew and I was proud to be a part of the totem pole, even at the starting level.

I worked as a kennel attendant for a little over a year until I was called into the doctor’s office and asked if I wanted to learn how to be a veterinary assistant.     I was over the moon!!!      It was a promotion into doing something that I wanted to do and up until then I hadn’t had any training at all.   When Tess started training me to assist her I started to learn her routine and it made everything run like a well oiled machine.    Everyone knew their job, nobody overstepped anybody else and we all worked together from morning until close.

Now on to my ‘pet peeve’  after all of that back story 🙂

Nowadays it seems like the technician title has been ‘cheapened’ to the extent where everyone who works at a vet hospital considers themselves one.    It’s no longer a title that you earn by going to school,  getting experience and obtaining a license.  You’re just a technician by working there.    It’s a given title,  and it annoys me to NO end!    I mean,  the definition of technician is:

tech·ni·cian
noun:   technician; plural noun: technicians
  1. a person employed to look after technical equipment or do practical work in a laboratory.
    1. an expert in the practical application of a science.
    2. a person skilled in the technique of an art or craft.

    Key words.. SKILLED in the technique of an art or craft.   Or in other words,  not just anybody can come off the street and get a job as a technician.   A little over 10 years ago I tried for my license when we lived in Washington state.   I never went to school for it,  but there was a way back then where, if you had enough years and enough letters of recommendation under your belt, then you could grandfather into the program to take the test for the license.  I think it was 10 years or more you could qualify,  and I had way more than that… so I gave it a shot.

    You couldn’t miss more than 3 questions and I missed 4..  FOUR!   Missed it by just one. 😦  It was so close the lady who gives the tests put a little yellow sticky note on my results when I received them in the mail.   It read “So close! I hope you try again next year!”    I never got the chance,  a few months later we were headed to Germany for our first tour.  After that it really wasn’t a priority any longer.     Really sucks and I’ll always regret that but I can’t do anything about it.    That means  that in reality  I can’t even call myself a “technician” even though I have had enough hands on experience to do everything a licensed tech can do.  I’m a veterinary assistant with a shit ton of hands on experience..  which is still impressive.     I’ve lost count of the people I’ve met that claim to be a tech but when it comes down to actually doing the duties of one,  they don’t know even the basics.  I’ve overheard these ‘techs’ giving medical advice to pet owners that makes me cringe.  (“It’s ok to buy a large dog dose of frontline and divvy it up into smaller doses for all of your dachshunds!”  That cut on your dog’s paw will be fine!  give aspirin for pain if you think he needs it!”   “You don’t need heartworm medication for your dogs if they don’t go outside!” )  Of course the pet owners only see that they are speaking to a technician so they MUST know what they are talking about, right?  Ugh!  A few times I’ve intervened and saved the owner from making a dire mistake.     Why did the title of Veterinary Assistant become so lackluster that nobody wants to be one?   Why isn’t it still appropriate to work towards a title that is considered being skilled in a profession?   One of the best parts of a career is that you can learn new things every day… why act so soon like you’re such a know it all?    Once while working in Heidelberg I had taken my dog in to the vet clinic there because she had injured her back and needed radiographs.    I knew how to work their xray machine and I got permission to go in and use the machine and take my own xrays.   The ‘technician’ working there at the time came into the radiology room and introduced herself.    She was real nice, but didn’t have a lick of experience.   She said “Oh, SPC Lukasko,  the guy that knows how to work the machine isn’t here today!”    As if only one person in that place should know how to take an xray?   I invited her in to help me and started to show her how to measure depth and length in order to set the machine to correctly take a picture.    She left the room for a second and came back with a textbook about radiology and started flipping pages trying to find how to measure my dog.  That day I showed her that there is a big difference between reading things out of a book and trying things HANDS ON.  She had been too afraid to,  and when I showed her you could tell that she thought it was one of the coolest things she’d learned in a long time working there…    hopefully that brought her one step closer to working towards having that title that she held there.   A short time later her and her husband PCSd and I think they moved to North Carolina.. she had gotten a job at an animal shelter as a technician.   Hopefully she continued working towards it.

    Seriously,   every time I run into a ‘tech’ where I work I get less and less impressed.  It really cheapens what those of us that take our jobs seriously do,  and don’t get me wrong… there are many MANY genuinely awesome people out there that make the veterinary profession proud every day with their skills and dedication.   I just don’t like that we are lumped in with those that don’t deserve that recognition.

    Rant over…

Valentine’s day, random yadda and more adorable pet pics

Had a very quiet and simple Valentine’s day with my beloved and furkids.    Then tonight we went out to the Pershing Community Club on post and had a five course dinner.   They had it last  year too and it was delish so I have been looking forward to it ever since.    Now, here I sit in a food coma not wanting to move and thinking to myself  “Oh, crap.. I haven’t scanned any new pictures like I said I would!”    Procrastination… it’s becoming a bad, bad habit.   I found a small album that has pages of pictures of just places.   It looks like it was taken on a trip and there are explanations written on them but its just of places, no people.     My uncle traveled a lot so I’m guessing they were his pictures.   You’ll see when I post them,  they are interesting in their own odd way.

I also got an email reminder that my sister’s birthday is in one week.  FTD has sent me that reminder  for years now and I just can’t cancel it,  yet.     I’ve been thinking of doing something in her honor for her birthday… something she would do if she was still here.    Maybe a donation in her name to   http://rabbit.org/    She loved her bunnies.   Right after our mom passed away she went right out and got herself some rabbits,  and not just two…   several.   Like, too many.   Mom didn’t want to have any pets in the house except for her  cat Tigger.

Oh, Tigger… I need to find a photo of him.   There was a house down the street that had stray cats and kittens everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.    I clearly remember the house being in crap shape but people lived in it.    They were nice but somehow their population of cats had gotten out of control.  My friends and I would ride our bikes by the house and see all those cats and kittens that would promptly scatter every which way when we got too close.  ALL of them were feral.   One day one of the people that lived there came out and told us that if we could catch a kitten we could keep it.   I was 12 years old and wanted one of those kittens badly so I went home and asked my mom if I could have one.    “NO”   she said.   No reason given, just no.      So I went and got a kitten anyway.   Hey,  I didn’t see any logic in mom’s decision and therefore in my pre teen mind it must be wrong.   At first I thought I would keep my newly acquired semi feral kitten in my outside playhouse.   I would leave food and water down in there and he would come and go as he pleased with my mother none the wiser.   That lasted maybe a week,  one day I came home from school and I was asked about the orange kitten that kept jumping in and out of my playhouse.   She was angry for a while and would tell me “That cat needs to go to the pound,  we aren’t keeping it!”    Eventually Tigger found his place in her heart   and slowly he became my mom’s after I moved out.   After that Tigger became the excuse for no other animals coming into the house.  “No, because it would upset Tigger”  she would say as if Tigger was a tender soul.  Hah!   I saw that cat jump onto a Golden Retriever’s back and ride it like a cowboy just for it barking at him.   He could have easily handled his own,  but mom was a creature of habit and her habit of saying “NO” to any new animals in the home stayed firm right up until she passed away.    Tigger lived to the ripe old age of 19 and I had the task of taking him in for his final vet visit a few months after mom passed.   After that,   Cindi went rabbit crazy.  I think at one time she had 7 or 9 rabbits and she loved them all dearly.   Her rabbits..  and her neighborhood squirrels.   Loves of her life.   Yep, I think a donation in her name would be perfect!

With that being said here are some more of the cute flufflings that I had the pleasure of helping at the vet I worked at overseas.

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Hello from the week that would not end..

Oh my god I’m so exhausted!   I don’t know if it’s I’m not sleeping well or working too hard but I come home dragging.   Even too tired to eat most nights  (yum,  sleep for dinner!)   my mind has been wanting to blog but the rest of me just wants to lay in a comatose state until morning.    Then, at 3am when the doxies wake me up for their morning potty it’s time to start the day over again.   Wash, rinse, repeat..         at least I’m off on Friday.  I really need it!   Going to hopefully catch up on a lot of things I’ve been neglecting.

I was accepted for another voxbox!    Either today or tomorrow I should be getting one that has Calvin Klein products inside.   How cool is that?  I had so much fun with the last one it’s cool that they really do monitor what their members do and give them opportunities to do other ones.   One of my other friends was just notified she was getting one soon, I think a different one though.. they do several a month from what I have seen.    They always send you the tracking number on the box that is arriving so you can see where it is.  Right now mine is in Illinois.   Hurry up voxbox!

My weight loss is doing wonderful!   Went to the doctor today for a new bout of hip pain that reared its ugly head about a week and a half ago.   Turns out I either strained or partially tore my  Sartorius muscle most likely swinging my leg over to get out of bed one of these mornings when I’m half asleep and needing to take the pups out to pee.  I absolutely love my doctor,  not only is he thorough and listens to his patients’ concerns instead of just going all textbook with zero bedside manner… he takes the time to listen and educate you about what’s going on with you.   For instance, I had no idea that  the word ‘Sartorius’ comes from  early 18th century: modern Latin, from Latin sartor ‘tailor’ (because the muscle is used when adopting a cross-legged position, earlier associated with a tailor’s sewing posture).   Pretty cool although the injury itself hurts like hell.     So, now I get to figure out a different way to get out of bed.    I was given a steroid shot which helped a lot but it’s only temporary if I don’t let it heal.     I’m half tempted to bring my yoga ball back to work to use that as my desk ‘chair’.    That works wonderful in strengthening the tummy and thigh muscles.    My co worker’s rolled over a staple and deflated so I felt weird being the only one up front sitting on a big blue yoga ball so I took it home, but I may bring it back.  For those who have never tried exercises on one, I highly recommend trying it!   It keeps you constantly aware and in check with your posture and you can really feel the effects after using it for a period of time.

sigh,  so… what to post as a picture of the day?     While I don’t have anything vintage tonight to share, I do have another collection that I was thinking about bringing out since a lot of time and care was taken in these photos.  When I lived overseas I managed a facebook page for the veterinary clinic I was working for at the time.   A couple co workers and I agreed that posting pictures of their pets’ really helps boost morale and bring a good name back to the reputation of the military vet clinic.    Sadly they generally have a rep of being employed and ran by people who could care less about animals.  So many times we’d get snapped at with a ‘well I know YOU don’t care if my dog lives or dies!”    I can proudly say that while I was there my team really turned that public opinion completely around. (but then I left, and my team slowly left too and now the place is a hole once again)   Long story short though,  when I left the facebook page I had created lay dormant then was deleted altogether.    The public was told by the incompetent staff that remained that the page was never run by an employee but rather an imposter.   Pssh… whatever.   I know the truth and those that matter know the truth too.   The rest of them can suck it.

So I have lots of pictures saved from my albums that were on there of our communities’ beautiful furbabies.    Until I can get more old pictures scanned here are some cute animals.   Keep in mind that they are at the VET while these pictures are taken and either just got their vaccinations, a thermometer up their booties or had a microchip implanted (to name a few)   aside from all that, look how happy they are!    That’s how much we rocked the block when I was in charge,   Enjoy the ‘Puparazzi’ pictures and will try to write more tomorrow,  Hooah!

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In a perfect world…

I answer many calls a day at my job.   I schedule appointments,  give information pertaining to PCSing pets overseas and answer questions and give advice within my means.   I’ve gotten quite comfortable on the phone when helping people.  If someone calls with a concern about their dog’s smelly ears, for example they will call to see if they should bring the dog in to be looked at by the doctor.   I usually reply with “If it concerns you,  then it is justifiable bringing him/her in to be looked at.  If anything for peace of mind”.    If they do bring them in and have them looked at, even if it wasn’t a dire emergency like they had originally thought… well they got their peace of mind.   Upon check out I will tell the owner “I am happy we were able to see (pet’s name) today”    99 percent of the owners will agree with me and thank me for my concern.   The other option is one I loathe… when nobody will agree to see their pet and they have to resort to consulting Dr “Google”.   They mean well and are genuinely trying to help their pet but it has a way of backfiring at times.   For instance…   A lady who thinks her dog has ear mites because he’s scratching his ears.   She googles it and goes to Walmart to pick up ear med medication.   Turns out it’s a yeast infection and that ear mite medication just made it 100% worse.   Not only does the owner feel like shit for unknowingly doing this to their pet,  but treatment can be more expensive depending on how bad the infection becomes (not to mention agony for the dog)  I get all kinds of calls which I’ve grown comfortable in fielding… but today I got a different call and it’s still affecting me now hours later.

I answer the phone  in my usual “Thank you for calling ****************  this is Stacey,  how may I help you?”   and a man’s deep gruff voice is on the other end.  “Yes, Hello ma’am.  I have a few strange questions I was hoping you could help me with”

“Ok”  I respond.   Quietly wondering if these questions will indeed be strange.   I’ve been asked questions about what to do with an orphan mouse and whether or not to keep an armadillo as a pet and if it would wear a collar.  (no, really… true story!)

The man takes a deep breath and begins his story “Well,  first question is do you do service dog training there?”

“No sir,  I’m sorry but we don’t.  I know of dog trainers in the area but I am not quite sure what qualifications one would need in order to train a dog as a service dog”

* silence for a few seconds*   then he continued “Ok, well here is my next question.  I see you have an animal shelter on post.    Do you by chance have any puppies that will grow up to be a BIG dog?   You see ma’am,  I am a 100% disabled veteran.   I have bad knees and a curved spine and I fall a lot.   I was hoping to find a dog that is young enough to train to help me when I fall, you know… help me get up and assist me in getting around my house.   I am a big guy so I would love a companion like that to help me.”

My heart melted…   This poor man was looking for a friend to take care of him and help him perform regular daily functions.  Why not a dog?    I mean, dogs are trained to help disabled veterans all the time.   In fact, right here on post  there is a Golden Retriever that accompanies his owner to work every day that can tell if his blood sugar is getting too low.  They are so in tune with one another you’d think they could telepathically communicate.   I think companion animals that act as service dogs are a wonderful idea and if trained properly a total godsend to who the dog is assigned.   Sadly though we didn’t many dogs in our facility at the moment so i suggested petfinder.com or looking for a breed rescue.   He told me that he’d love an Irish Wolfhound or maybe a Rottweiler type dog since they are so muscular and could probably help him get up off the floor when he fell    “It really hurts when I fall since i usually land on my knees (ouch)”   I gave him every contact I could think of  and gave him some key questions to ask the people at the rescues if he made contact.   He asked again about any dog trainer contacts and I gave him those too.   “The VA won’t give me any assistance in training my dog so I’ve been doing a lot of research.  I have read that a perfect age to start training is about 4-6 months of age”

I told the man I sincerely hoped he was successful in achieving his goal in finding his new best friend and getting it trained into an amazing service dog for him.  I can’t imagine living with the disabilities he described.   He deserves this.    I pray that he finds everything he needs very soon.

and I hope he calls back someday so I can hear all about his dog.

One hour delay…

Icy conditions in my area has called for a ‘one hour work delay for those “who are not critical and/or essential as previously identified by their supervisor”.    I’m assuming that’s me so I get an extra few minutes to wake up and type a little something before heading out to work in the ice.

I apologize for being so negative in my last entry,  I guess I just let things get to me a little more than I should have..     I found some other cool things to share on here in the meantime until I can get my photos sent out and scanned.   Other family heirlooms (like the red hooded cloak)   that I feel deserve to be shared after being kept in the condition they are in after all these years.

Another project I am working on is helping a senior cat get out of the stray facility I work near and into a forever home to live out her golden years.  This baby was found wandering loose on post with no microchip and was never claimed. (who does that?!)   We guess her age to be more than 10,  most likely in her teens with maybe one or two good teeth left in her mouth.     The strays are usually held for 10 business days then available for adoption,  but people tend to migrate towards the younger ‘awww how cute’ kittens than an old family matriarch like this lady.     I am pretty hopeful that I found someone through a cat group on facebook that will come get her.   She seems very legit,  having rescued a retired blood donor cat from an emergency hospital and another cat that was a special case..  We’ve been in contact a few times this past weekend so hopefully in a couple weeks we will make plans to meet (she’s a couple states over)    Here is a couple pictures of her cute face.   After all those years of living on this earth,  she deserves far much more than living out her remaining days in a cage…  It’s the least I can do,  but every little bit counts for these poor babies that can’t speak for themselves…

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Why i do what I do

I work at a military veterinary treatment facility.   Being a military wife I’ve had the opportunity to travel back and forth to Germany twice with my husband and so far I’ve been fortunate enough to get employment at the on post vet clinics.    They are run by non appropriated funds,  which means we aren’t well equipped to run like a full service veterinary clinic can.  We are very limited on resources.    Non appropriated fund facilities  do not receive taxpayer support, so the clinics rely on revenues from routine exams to cover basic operating expenses.  That means we aren’t able to be staffed the way we’d like to be such as hiring more civilian employees to cover those shifts since WE cost money.  We are unable to  carry certain products and offer certain services (IE: weekend hours,  overnight hospitalization, emergency, boarding facilities)   That can be frustrating especially since the veterinarians DO want to do more for their patients.   We do what we can though.  Overall people are pretty happy,  showing them that you care speaks volumes.
I wish the powers that be could see that owning pets are wonderful for morale.   Healthy pets,  happy owners,  happy soldiers/government employees.   It’s a great investment if you look at it that way.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a soldier in uniform show up for an appointment with their pet,  whether it be for vaccines, a sick call, ear check… whatever.    You can tell that the pet means everything to that soldier.   One in particular stands out in my mind.   Picture a very tall hulking drill sergeant.  One of those guys you can easily picture being a hard ass with his trainees.    He walks in with a medium sized Australian shepherd with a pink collar.   “Gizzy is here for her appointment”   He says with a smile.  I check them in,  fill out the chart and tell him to have a seat until they are called into the back.   As they sit in our waiting room waiting to be called in  I watch as he talk quietly to Gizzy. “It’s going to be ok..  you are going to see the doctor then we will go home and I’ll give you a treat because you are so good! yes you are!  Daddy loves his pretty girl so much!”    The dog rarely took her eyes off of her ‘daddy’.    Witnessing this love between the two of them was so freaking adorable and it’s obvious that having her in his life makes his world a much better place.

The vet clinic IS  available 24 hours a day for our military working dogs.  As part of the military ‘mission’,   the dogs that work as military police dogs and deploy receive the best possible health care that can be offered.   The government owned animals are only treated and handled by military staff.   There was once an incident where our xray unit was not working and there was a gravely ill military police dog that was in need of radiographs and a CT.   The dog was transported to the human hospital on base by the clinic staff and handlers for what the dog needed.  Those dogs  put their furry butts in the path of danger every time they go to work.   They get PTSD just like people do.   When they retire,  the handler has the option to adopt the dog if they want, which is usually what happens.  If not, there are hand picked homes that will adopt them and let them live out their golden years the way they deserve. In Germany there was a retired dog named Pockets that was adopted by an older lady.   She would send us pictures of Pockets curled up on a hand knitted blanket in front of the fireplace.  He lived happily with her for 3 years until cancer and incontinence took him.    We keep some of our working dog  pictures displayed in our waiting room.   Yellow ribbons mean the dog is currently deployed.   I love how proud they look in their pictures, you can tell the dog knows they are bad ass 🙂   I’ve been working in the vet field for almost 27 years, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

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