Surgical Oncology Nurse
I believe veterinary nursing is a calling, and I heard that call at an early age.
Visiting our veterinarian with my mother for our dogs' regular check-ups, I knew I wanted a career in animal medicine. I thought I wanted to become a veterinarian so, during high school I started working at a local clinic. What I discovered was that I really love nursing: the hands-on care involved with each patient whether in for a simple check up or a difficult surgery.
Once I realized that, I enrolled into the veterinary nursing program at Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, Colo., straight out of high school. I especially appreciated the program’s close connection with the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital where senior students rotate through all clinical departments to gain practical experience working with patients, clinical staff and clients.
I am from Steamboat Springs, Colo., one of the most beautiful places in the state. As a family, we enjoyed a lot of outdoor activities together while I was growing up. My mother worked for the Steamboat Ski Lodge during the busy winter season, and took summers off; and my father, who owns his own business, has always maintained a good work-life balance. No one in our family has a medical background but once I made my choice of profession known, my family backed me completely.
After graduating and passing the Veterinary Technician National Exam, I went into private practice. Over the next few years, I developed a preference for emergency medicine and surgery but, in private practice, I hit the ceiling of what I could accomplish and how much I could grow.
I have often been asked: if you could work anywhere in the world where would that be? My answer has always been “the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital.” So, when a friend let me know there was an opening for a surgical nurse, I jumped at it. Now, you could say, I’m living my dream.
This is a remarkable place. The atmosphere of learning, respect and collegiality is what I love most about working here. Nurses are recognized as a vital part of the veterinary medical team, and their contributions respected. Although I’m in oncology, I interact with every department in the hospital, with numerous groups outside the hospital, and with a variety of clients; and every day, I learn something new or a new way of doing something I typically do. The curious mind is appreciated, and questions are always welcome.
As the surgical oncology nurse, my first responsibility is ensuring that surgery day schedules are coordinated and run smoothly; and that clients are kept well-informed all along the way. It’s important to the surgical team—especially during high-risk surgeries—that clients are kept apprised of how their pets are doing, and I like providing that bit of extra service.
Although sometimes it is difficult to see these very sick patients, it is that much more rewarding to make them comfortable while they are here, and to watch them walk out of the hospital with their owners after their care is completed.
On my own time, I love taking advantage of the many places to hike, bike, ski or otherwise play here in Colorado. I have a beautiful golden retriever, Tia, who is the biggest part of my life. Together we have hiked trails, enjoyed long walks and shared swims in some breathtaking landscapes. She has had her own health scares recently, making her even more special to me. She can no longer run alongside me on bike rides, so now she rides alongside in a buggy and together we enjoy the view. I also have a little short-haired cat, Zuma, who adores Tia but she remains skeptical.