This month we are featuring veterinary technician Sandra Lean-Leighton, RVT! Sandra has a very unique story and we are honored that she is sharing with us. She is previous actress who became a veterinary technician and now does a “Adventures of a Super Vet Tech” Show. Her story is sure to make you smile!
VTP: When did you become a vet tech and how has your experience evolved into what it is today?
SL-L: After 20 years in the performing arts as an actress, writer and producer, I made the best decision I ever made, to go into veterinary technology. I attended Seneca College in King City, Ontario. I worked in different small animal clinics for 2 years, then established my company Vet Tech Support Services being a locum veterinary technician in over 40 different veterinary clinics in the Toronto area. My work has taken me from “Vet to the Stars,” caring for the pets of the rich and famous, to an ER referral clinic, working in dermatology and neurology, to shelter medicine at the Toronto Humane Society, one of the largest shelters in North America. I love the variety and challenge of meeting new people and learning a vast array of different veterinary approaches and techniques.
Two years ago I decided to combine my two careers. I’ve written a one-woman comedy about my experiences as a vet tech. I’ve been performing my show “Adventures of a SuperVetTech” for the vet industry and the general public as a motivation vehicle for vet techs and to raise the public profile of our profession. I am currently touring vet tech colleges and conferences and in July 2015 did a 7 show run at the Toronto Fringe Festival. The response has been amazing. I couldn’t be happier.
VTP: What do you do at work? Tell me about a funny part of your show
SL-L: A section of my show talks about getting a semen sample from a Pomeranian, wrestling a cormorant with a broken wing and treating gunshot wounds on a hound dog. Dealing with the “Peculiar Quirks” of various pet owners is also highlighted. We love the owners, but sometimes they come out with great lines like, “My female dog can’t be pregnant, my male dog is gay!!” or, “Do you have group rates for cremations? I have 23 dead cats in my freezer.” My personal favorite is, “I’ve installed a window in my freezer and “Fluffy” is sitting on a lovely pillow looking out. She says hello.”
VTP: How do you cope with job-related stress?
SL-L: Being a vet tech is very stressful and the chance of burn-out is always there. I try to keep my sense of humor. That is one of the most important elements to working in this field. If you can’t laugh at some of the bizarre things that we are asked to do, you’re dead in the water. It’s also very physical work so I keep in shape by bicycling. It helps me clear my head and gives me a good workout.
VTP: What pets to you have?
SL-L: I’m a cat person. I just have one cat currently, Redley, a rescue case, of course. He came to me with chronic stomatitis and after unsuccessful treatment, it was decided to pull all of his teeth. What a miraculous change for him! For the first time he is pain free, he plays, grooms and has a new lease on life. It makes me feel better about having to do drastic extractions on my patients. Through my experiences with my own animals, cancer, diabetes, or poisoning, it gives me an opportunity to see the veterinary world through an owner’s eyes. It helps me remember that this animal is loved and cherished by its owners, just as I adore my pets. It raises the stakes.
VTP: What is it about being a vet tech that makes you happy and feel valued?
SL-L: I have to admit, I have a special place in my heart for shelter medicine. When an animal comes to us in physical or mental distress, I love to watch the miraculous change; my favorite thing is the release of that animal to its new owners. I always look to the animal and say, “This is the luckiest day of your life,” and I know it’s true. Also I love cat abscesses, so juicy and easily fixed and I love cystocentesis, liquid gold!
VTP: Any words of wisdom for those preparing to be a vet tech or are considering this as a future job?
SL-L: I can’t tell you how proud I am to be a veterinary technician. As a right-brained artsy-fartsy, I am in awe of the talented and dedicated people with whom I share the initials RVT. They constantly amaze and inspire me. My advice to vet techs is to bite the bullet, take the VTNE, and join this challenging world as a true professional. In the future, as this vocation gets the recognition it so rightly deserves with the general public, it will pave the way for better pay and better working conditions. Our vet tech associations are working very hard for that very thing. And of course, never…ever…lose you sense of humor!!
We veterinary technicians, with the combination of our skills, experience and “Supersensitivities,” that makes us all SuperVet Techs.
For more information about Sandra and “Adventures of a SuperVet Tech” please visit her website link or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a unique story or would you like to share your vet tech experiences?
We will continue to do a monthly “My Vet Tech Story” piece to help inspire students or others who are considering this as a career or are interested in learning more about what vet techs do.