Kristin Ardery has been a vet tech for 25 years. I have loved learning her story, and she gives great advice for aspiring veterinary technicians.
VTP: When did you become a vet tech and how has your experience evolved into what it is today?
KA: I have been a vet tech for 25 years. I work at a small animal and exotics practice- Barrington Oaks Veterinary Hospital in Elk River, MN. I worked as animal maintenance at a pet store with adjoining veterinary services (All About Pets / Golden Valley, MN), and was recruited by request of the veterinarian on staff. I trained on the job, and then attended school at the Medical Institute of MN which is now Argosy.
My first shift filling in for a technician, I roomed a ferret that wasn't doing well. Her name was Margaret. We took radiographs and discovered a foreign body. We placed an IV catheter and prepped her for surgery. We removed a piece of rubber from her stomach. We recovered her fully, all in one day from start to finish.
VTP: What is the an interesting case you have seen in practice or something you have learned about being a vet tech?
KA: This is a tough question to answer because I have been doing this for so long, and every day is different! I have seen many interesting cases, which is what keeps things exciting. I enjoy the variety. I have learned that abnormal is normal in a hospital, and to appreciate each patient and their people.
There is always something new to learn or connections to be blessed by. One interesting case was a cat I treated during my externship in Maui, HI that had been hit by a car. The doctor reconstructed and wired his jaw. We tube fed him for weeks until he began eating on his own. His owner came to visit him every single day. (I went to Maui for a year following school. Best thing I ever did.)
VTP: How do you cope with job-related stress?
KA: I do a ton of self-improvement and self-work. This is an inside job. There will always be stress in your environment to some degree, and ultimately you are the one in charge of how you feel and what you do with it.
I don't find myself with a lot of free time as I work and raise three super awesome and active kids by myself. At this time, I enjoy seeing them grow and develop in their schooling and activities. I am proud to say I have 3 A-honor roll students and they rank nationally in competition BMX, among other sports.
VTP: What pets to you have?
KA: You might not believe this, but I don't have any pets right now! I had 2 cats for many years; Batley and Bilirubin. I got them both through clients at the vet hospital I worked at. I miss them.
VTP: What is your favorite duty in your job? What is it about your specific job that makes you happy and feel valued?
KA: I have always enjoyed client education. I feel comfortable and valued when I share what I know with someone in need and act as an advocate for the pet. I also like teaching new hires and interns. I love to work with birds and geriatric cats.
VTP: Any words of wisdom for those preparing to be a vet tech or are considering this as a future job?
KA: If you want to be the vet tech, then BE the vet tech. Value yourself and your education. Confidence goes very far. “Fake it” until you become it. Trust yourself and step into the roll. Communicate value to the clients. Demonstrate value in your profession to your coworkers. This is what will improve esteem and pay within the profession.
This is what will set you apart from others in the field. Partake in certifications, and continuing education. Join associations and immerse yourself in professional groups. Stop and nuzzle kitten-bellies and puppy-bellies. It's ok. Life is short. Share them with your coworkers.
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