The Savvy VetTech

My Vet Tech Story: Kathryn Dial, CVT

by Lori Hehn - November 9, 2016 at 9:00 AM
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This month I am honored to feature Kate Dial, a certified vet tech practicing at a specialty hospital in the sunny Phoenix area! I love hearing different stories from wonderful technicians such as Kate in finding out how they decided to pursue the profession. Thanks Kate for sharing your amazing journey with us!

VTP: When did you become a vet tech and how has your experience evolved into what it is today?

KD: I got a late start in the veterinary technology field. In and out of community colleges with no real focus on a career path, I felt adrift. I spent the first part of my working career as a bartender and waitress. Though the money was good, the job satisfaction was just not there for me. I was 26 when I decided to move to Phoenix from a small town in West Michigan. Two more years of bartending, now in just a sunnier location, I had come home from a particularly rough day at the bar. One of my foster dogs came over and put his big head in my lap and I just knew that I had to find a career in animal care.  After a lot of internet (and soul) searching I found out that you could actually go to school to become a veterinary technician! Prior to that I just thought you had to get lucky and get hired in at a clinic and they would train you on the job. I found a nearby school, (now defunct Anthem College) enrolled and the rest is history.

I was very fortunate to be hired by Animal Health Services only 2 months after starting my education at Anthem College. They took a risk on a completely green technician and gave me a shot to learn hands-on while receiving my education and degree concurrently.  It is a risk that payed off - I just celebrated my 6 year anniversary on the 6th of October. 
 
I graduated in 2012 with honors from the National Technical Honors Society, took (and passed!) my VTNE in the same year, and am now looking into pursuing my Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS). There are a lot of exciting possibilities in the veterinary technician field and they are growing and evolving as the profession becomes more and more expansive and respected. There are even baccalaureate degrees being offered in Veterinary Technology - this is just another example of the need for experienced and educated technicians. 
 

VTP: What is an interesting or favorite case you have seen?

KD: Our practice is located north of Phoenix, in Cave Creek. Being so far north and somewhat isolated has lead to a lot of interesting cases that I likely would not have seen if in a more densely populated area. It is not uncommon to see a lot of emergencies involving rattlesnake bites, coyote attacks, Bufo toad toxicities, and even javelina gorings. There is rarely a dull moment in our hospital. 

VTP: How do you cope with job-related stress?

KD: It is extremely important to find balance in your life. Even though sometimes it is difficult to leave work behind after a long and stressful day, you have to learn to shut it off. I have found my peace through a long list of home improvement projects with my significant other - I often feel like I am in a constant state of construction.

I also funnel any extra money (mostly from pet-sitting jobs on the side) into extensive travel, last year I traveled to France for a month and this coming year I have trips to both Ireland and Scotland planned.  

VTP: What pets do you have? Any stories on how you got them?

KD: We have two dogs and two cats, to both of which my boyfriend is allergic. We make it work with allergy meds and an (unfortunately) strict adherence to frequent sweeping and mopping. 

Both of our dogs came from County - a Border Collie, and what they told us was an "Aussie mix" who grew up to be a 75# German Shepherd mix. One of my cats came with me from Michigan and the other I adopted as a retired show cat, she is a 6# Oriental Shorthair who rules the household. 

VTP: What is your favorite duty in your job? What is it about your specific job that makes you happy and feel valued?

kate1.jpgKD: I have found an incredibly fortunate position in a company that values the vast knowledge and skill-set that CVTs and technician assistants possess. I work with a doctor that leans heavily on us as techs and that in turn makes the entire hospital work like a well oiled machine. It is intense, but highly motivating. 

The obvious job perks are, of course, the puppy and kitten appointments. But my true fulfillment comes from the little things; a co-worker telling me that a client asked for me by name when I happened to be unavailable to assist in an appointment. It comes from clients hugging me with tears in their eyes after saying goodbye to their companion and thanking me for being with them in the difficult moments. It comes from a connections we forge with not only the animals we are treating but from the people we are helping to be the best "pet parents" that they possibly could be. 

kate1.jpgVTP: Any words of wisdom for those preparing to be a vet tech or are considering this as a future job?

KD: This job is not for the faint of heart and I have watched a lot of people drift in and out of the profession; it is harder than you think. Compassion fatigue is real. Physical fatigue is real. We are often underutilized and underpaid - but here is the bright side: Change is coming. It is not going to be easy, but you will get out of this profession what you are willing to put into it. Work hard, never stop learning, and leave complacency behind - there is a future in this field if you are strong enough to chase it!

The Top 15 Tips and Tricks for Studying for the VTNE

Studying for the VTNEYou're of course going to need to study a ton to nail the test, but there are a lot of tips and tricks that will help you make the most of your study time and we've packaged those up in a free guide.

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About Lori Hehn

Lori Hehn is a practicing veterinarian and a contributor and content manager with XPrep Learning Solutions. She has a drive for continual learning and enjoys interacting with veterinary and vet tech students. She also writes veterinary learning books for children.

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