We last left off on Reflection Part 2 in 2007 when I left AVS and was accepted into the University of Florida undergraduate program. I took a position at UF's Small Animal Veterinary Medical Center. After working with the amazing staff at AVS I knew that no matter what I couldn't let anyone keep me from my passion--animals, science, veterinary medicine. Since this story is about my career and not the blunders of college (again that can be for another time) I will keep it short and just say my acceptance was conditional but I wasn't informed in time to complete the requirement thus my acceptance was rescinded. At this point I was focused and refused to give up--I stayed in Gainesville with my new job and resumed classes at Santa Fe College.
My job was in the small animal ICU/CC (intensive care unit/critical care). I worked the "swing" shift which was 5 days a week 5pm to 1am. I also went to class during the day. The shift I worked was mostly unsupervised--no doctors--just techs with doctors on call. When I first got up there I had to get blood drawn, physical exam, rabies vaccinations, and training on the day shift. They told me usually new employees train for a week but after 3 days I was put onto my new shift. The rabies vaccinations were administered in a series of a few weeks and they made me feel sick every time--which is supposedly a normal side effect.
I fit in fairly well with the diverse staff and learned many new skills quickly. Most of the time we were monitoring and administering medications and treatments to the patients in our ward. We had many post operative patients as well as critically ill patients. I went in with general nursing skills and came out knowing advanced skills. Despite all the obstacles I've faced everything has made me into the person and professional that I am today. Working in ICU we had our unfortunate fair share of experience in CPR and because of this I am quite comfortable (for lack of a better word) performing the potentially life saving action. My almost two years of employment at UF was a crash course in emergency care/resuscitation, cardiology, surgery, advanced nursing and venipuncture (special IV catheters and blood drawing) and so much more.
I wish I kept journals during so much of this time but I never really wrote about work and when I did write about anything it was sporadic depressive ramblings. Anyway, for about a year I worked that shift and most weekends drove back to orlando to visit David. I never specifically had trouble with management but a few of my coworkers did and I developed a healthy disdain for my employers (or at least the people they put in charge). For whatever reason our department (there was cardiology, radiology, etc--just like human specialists, they had everything) was the only one in small animal that ran 24 hours a day and constantly brought in money but our staff was often the most harassed and we were always an after thought. Upper management purposely misled our direct manager during evaluations (that were supposed to lead to raises) so that most of us did not score high enough despite what our manager reported about us. They created this "career ladder" format of rigorous checklists, signatures, written and verbal testing which was the graded using a mysterious formula that equaled to a dollar amount for an individuals raise. When questioned they were unable to provide said formula or explain their conclusions. Several other little rude, condescending, selfish actions and remarks that aren't even the point of this story. They often forgot about the late shifts when they actually planned something for the staff whether if was educational, fun, or mandatory. We would have to stay hours late after our shifts or come in during the middle of the day just for a meeting. Even though I am still a little bitter about a few things I would do it all over again because it made me just that much better at what I do!
I'm having a difficult time remembering which cases came and what point while I worked at UF so I'm going to go through some photos (thankfully the files has date taken recorded...awesome!) and try to figure out what happened at what time. During my last year there I was suddenly switched from the swing shift to an overnight position (10pm to 8am) which entailed more duties, longer shifts, less help, and I would at one point be the senior technician. I didn't have an option. I asked for an increase in pay and was denied. I had to drop all of my classes as my new schedule was effective within two weeks. I had a really hard time adjusting to the overnight shift but I still have some amazing experiences and became good friends with someone I probably wouldn't have if we didn't work so close together. I'll share this photo of a 10 month of white bengal tiger baby boy. He's quite large as he is almost a year old. The "little" guy injured a bone in his leg and was on cage rest with a cast. Our duty at night was to check on him and make sure he didn't remove his cast. If he did then we would call the zoo med veterinarian. However we did get to pet him through the cage a few times. ;-o He was very sweet and would try to lick your hand through the bars and would place his paw against your palm.
Next week I will share special and interesting cases I experienced during my time there. I hope at the very least to show you some cool photos of animals you wouldn't usually get to see up close and also to show you what I do and have done in my career in veterinary medicine.