This is a very special month to share a vet tech story with Vet Tech Appreciation coming up soon. We know you will be inspired by Catherine Holly's path in veterinary medicine. A huge thank you to Cat for sharing her story; thanks for all you do!
VTP: When did you become a vet tech and how has your experience evolved into what it is today?
CH: I have been a vet tech for 31 years! I work at two different general practices, the first one I've been at for 16 years - Atlantic Animal Hospital and Wellness Center, they offer holistic as well as conventional medicine. The other hospital I have been with for 10 months. I did attend Becker College for Veterinary Technology but did not finish. I am primarily on the job trained and I received my certification in 2004 after taking and passing the VTNE.
I started when I was 15 years old, my high school offered after school programs through the boy scouts (yes I am a girl, anyone could participate in these programs), I always wanted to work with animals, ever since I could talk so the veterinarian who my family had used for years offered one of the programs. We got to see surgery, day to day duties, etc. I was hooked and at the end of the program we went to the veterinarian's farm and he let us castrate one of his bulls! I loved it so much I asked if I could volunteer during the summer and he liked me so much he offered me a job. I was with him for 13 years before moving on to another hospital. I am so excited and proud of this profession and how it has evolved over the past 30 years - the medicine is fantastic for the most part!
VTP: What is an interesting or favorite case you have seen?
CH: Oh wow, I've seen a lot! The best, most interesting case I have seen was shortly after we hired a veterinarian who practiced acupuncture, we had a dachshund come in on referral from an emergency hospital. The dog had severe IVDD (intervertebral disc disease) and needed surgery in order to relieve her pain and be able to walk again. She was completely non-ambulatory on all four (not using any of her legs) and she was in a great deal of pain. The owners could not afford the surgery so we were her last ditch effort otherwise, she would have to be euthanized (at 4 years of age!) We started acupuncture right away. She was on steroids and pain medication to help. After the 4th acupuncture treatment, she started to use her front legs. A few more treatments, she started using her hind legs. We were also able to discontinue her pain medications and wean her off the steroids. Around treatment #10, she was walking with no difficulty!! Today, several years later, you would never know she ever had a problem! This is why I love what we do, to be able to see a dog who was essentially paralyzed and in so much pain go from that to being a completely healthy, happy and pain free dog!!
VTP: How do you cope with job-related stress?
CH: I have to say, I'm a reality TV and soap opera junkie. They always take my mind off my stressors. I also like to play golf.
VTP: What pets do you have? Any stories on how you got them?
CH: Penny (dog), She is a mixed breed, 6 yo, I adopted her from my local shelter, she came up here from St. Croix! Timmy (cat), he is a DSH, large orange tabby, 12 yo, I adopted him from my hospital after his previous owner who purchased him from a pet store came in complaining about his kittenish ways (he was 8 weeks old), needless to say, after muttering under my breath "bring him here and I will take him"... a week later, I had a new kitten. Tonks (cat), she is a 3 yo DLH, grey/white kitty, I adopted her from another local shelter after she came to my hospital's open house to be adopted out... we fell in love with her!
VTP: What is your favorite duty in your job? What is it about your specific job that makes you happy and feel valued?
CH: I love surgery and dentals, I am fairly proficient in both aspects. I feel valued at both hospitals, the doctors really appreciate the technicians and that really makes a huge difference. I've worked for places that don't value their techs and it makes for a miserable, toxic environment.
VTP: Any words of wisdom for those preparing to be a vet tech or are considering this as a future job?
CH: I always tell prospective future techs to volunteer at a shelter first before jumping right into the hospital setting. If they can handle the noisy atmosphere and get some restraint/handling under their belt, then try to do a job shadowing in a veterinary hospital. This job is not for everyone, I've known so many people be gung ho about seeing surgery but they can't handle it when they get in there. We offer job shadow at one of my hospitals and it has helped so many make the decision to either drop it or proceed with applying to schools.