I have some freshly brewed coffee which I drink with a splash of Italian sweet cream. I also love Earl Grey tea and have some for you if you so desire. Can I get you a cup of either with a donut or muffin? I thought as we visit I would tell you all about my work and how I got involved in what I do for a living. I’ve been wanting to share and thought why not over a cup of coffee. So here goes nothing, as I’ll start with a little history.
Growing up I loved two things, horses and the medical field. I got my first horse when I was 10 years old and was with several English horse trainers and rode Hunter/Jumpers. When I graduated from high school I worked full-time for two different horse trainers grooming and showing year round. I thought I wanted a career in the horse industry but after 4 years of dedicating my life to horses I felt like I was missing something. I thought to myself, is this what I am going to do for the rest of my life? That’s when I decided I wanted more and thought I need to go to college. I wanted to be a nurse!
I decided to head to college and while talking to our equine veterinarian at my trainers he told me about a Veterinary Laboratory where he drops off his blood work for testing. I told my horse trainer (my boss) that I could not work full-time and go to college and so I needed to find a new job. He understood and had other grooms and other girls working for him so he continued as my horse trainer until I sold my horse. My show horse Chester my trainer convinced me to sell him which I did to a nice lady who was learning to ride. So he was retired and went to a good home. Before I left my trainer and started college I had bought a young show horse that my trainer wouldn’t let me ride! I couldn’t believe it and I was rather annoyed, so it made it much easier to head out in another direction and I sold that horse and stopped riding for awhile. I felt like it was the right decision at the time. New goals, right? I did miss the horses though…..
Can I get you a refill? or another muffin? I was able to contact the veterinary laboratory that the equine vet recommended and went for an interview and was hired on the spot! I started working there in 1982 and never looked back. It was cutting ground in the veterinary laboratory industry back then and we were using instruments that you use in the human laboratory. When I think back it is amazing how we use to do the testing compared to today. There were no computers – NONE! A lot of the testing was very old school, chloride testing by titration for example, (anyone remember chemistry in school?) a lot of manually testing that is now all 100% automated. I was hired into the Chemistry department. I was just starting college, and it was such a fun job and still is believe it or not! I Love my work!
To this day anyone can open a veterinary laboratory. There are vet hospitals and vets who have tried, and there are many smaller vet labs around that are growing but there are now two GIANT vet labs competing against each other and I worked at one and left to work at the other. The veterinary lab work is not regulated by the state. There is some federal regulations which would be for special tests that are not routine like rabies testing which I believe is done at Universities. The federal government also regulates an Equine test called Coggins which is for a highly contagious disease that the federal government has complete control over. You have to go to “Coggins” school in Iowa and be trained on how to perform this test. It tests EIA which stands for Equine Infectious Anemia which is transmitted by bloodsucking insects. Anyways, I’m going off on a tangent here and what I am trying to say is no one needs to be licensed or degreed to work in a veterinary laboratory. It is helpful but not a requirement!
It is all really complicated to explain how these huge giant chemistry analyzers work but they are completely amazing. These are used in human labs as well, all our instruments are used in both settings. I have been to training at the manufacturers on many occasions on generations of analyzers over my 40 years of working in the laboratory field. I didn’t take photos but there are two more instruments called Immulites that run endocrinology testing. I have many certifications of my training which gives me expertise in this field. I did attend college but did not get my degree. I ended up getting married and had my 3 beautiful children which are all wonderful grown adults. In the beginning, when I started at that vet lab, I just thought it a job to help me get through college. After 4 years at the vet lab I quit and went to work at a human lab which was a great experience. I was there for about 12 years and without making this too long of a story I quit to move and live in our local mountains and be a full time Mom. That only lasted one year and so we decided to move back to suburbia and I contacted friends back at the vet lab and became the supervisor of the Chemistry department. I actually love helping animals through my job and veterinary science has come a long way and is just as good as we get for ourselves! 😀
As the supervisor for 20 years I learned so very much. I realized that my job was really my career. Moving back to town and getting into this position really pushed me to learn and be a leader. I am very proud of my department and all I did for those 20 years but they were all working grave yard shift (night shift hours). Last year I decided to look for day shift employment. I knew being in management for the last 20 years that there were no viable jobs to stay with this company and so I looked elsewhere and landed a job working swing shift hours with almost the same rate of pay. I now take care of 4 instruments full-time, run blood work and prepare another 9 instruments for the night shift run. I just run quality control on those 9 instruments with a little bit of daily cleaning. It is all doable and I really enjoy this new job, with these great new hours! 😀
I hope this all isn’t too boring and sorry for the techy language which I didn’t want to over explain. If you have any questions, please ask as I’d love to share! I so appreciate you having coffee with me today. I’ll end with this photo!
It’s only fitting since I found my career because of my love of my horse. I know I am helping all those with furry friends as I run their blood work through the analyzers to see if their kidneys are working or if they have diabetes for example. There is so much more, but working in the medical field has been very rewarding. I hope you enjoyed and thank you Natalie for hosting our #weekendcoffeeshare!
Keeping animals healthy, with Love!