Career Spotlight of the Month (February 2020)
Name: Tarra Brazeau, RVT
Current Job: Mobile RVT for The 100x Vet
Q & A with Tarra
OAVT: Where did you go to school and what made you decide to take a Veterinary Technology program?
Tarra: A lot of my childhood memories are of my dog, Taz. She was with us for 12 years until one day I got some horrible news that she suddenly passed away due to a mass in her chest. I didn’t know why this happened to her, but knowing what I know now, she had been showing signs long before that day. So I decided to take the veterinary technician course at Algonquin College so that I could help other families save their pets.
OAVT: You are currently a mobile RVT for The 100x Vet which you CO-CREATED with Dr. Kris Chandroo, DVM. How did this mobile service come to be?
Tarra: Dr. Kris Chandroo and I worked in a clinic together for almost five years and found that we both share the same views, and we get along very well. We both come from the thought that it can’t always be just about the medicine. Our moto is “we don’t treat pets, we treat relationships.”
It’s so important to take into consideration the relationship that the owners have developed with their pets. If we prescribe a medication that has to be forced down a pet's throat with a great amount of struggle, we are not doing any good. In fact, that relationship begins to weaken when the pet does not trust the owner anymore. Listening to all of the owner's concerns and then generating a plan based on their concerns is how we treat relationships.
OAVT: Do you consider yourself an RVT entrepreneur?
Tarra: Yes! I am constantly reading business books, listening to business podcasts and taking online courses to keep my mind fresh with knowledge. I am not just an RVT for The 100x Vet in Ottawa. I helped start the business and continue to run the back end. I have always wanted to start my own business and be my own boss. The past two years have been the most amazing experience of my career.
OAVT: It's amazing to hear you sound so fulfilled in your career! What do you love most about your current job?
Tarra: Before I became a mobile RVT, I was actually ready to leave the profession. I felt that I could only stand being underpaid and under appreciated for so long.
I am no longer a part of the magical place that is “the back.” A place where pets are taken away from their owners. I am now on the front lines for the whole appointment. To get recognized for the work that I do has been an amazing experience. I am thanked over and over again at every appointment for what I am able to do for them. It gives me the strength to keep going every day. I never thought I would say this, but I don’t consider this my job anymore, it is more like my calling.
Not only do I get to help all of our clients and their pets, but we also are able to help people in need in the community who are unable to afford veterinary care for their companions. We provide free vet care in exchange for videoing the experience for our YouTube channel. These experiences in turn help other people going through the same problems. On top of all of that, we make the time twice a year to go to Cuba, bring medications and supplies, and help out the vets down there. We also started a Cuban Experience Workshop in which we bring vet professionals to Cuba and teach them about the Cuban veterinary way. It has been very rewarding!
OAVT: What makes mobile veterinary services so special? How do you feel they benefit the patient and client?
Tarra: We had a cat that we used to see in clinic. We were never able to examine him unless he was fully sedated, and even when sedated, he was still really feisty. When we started the mobile practice, the owners found us online and booked an appointment. I couldn’t believe the difference! He approached us, rubbed against our legs, and promptly hissed at us. We never touch any anxious animal until they permit it to happen. The first 30 minutes are generally us chatting with the owner, so it gives time for the pets to get used to us. By the end of that appointment, this cat had a full exam (abdominal palpation included)!!! All we had to do for him, was give him time, and lots of yummy food to eat for distractions. The client was so ecstatic that they didn’t have to have their cat sedated.
We see cases like this on a weekly basis. Animals that have been banned from clinics for being too aggressive. Our approach, plus being in their own homes, has been an absolutely amazing experience for all involved.
OAVT: What other jobs have you had in the RVT field?
Tarra: For the first two years of my career, I worked in an emergency clinic. I loved working in emergency, It was so thrilling, and kept me on my toes. I have also worked in a busy general practice, where I was able to bring my skills in emergencies to the table.
OAVT: What advice would you give to RVTs who are looking to perhaps get into a similar type of role, working in a mobile setting with a DVM?
Tarra: Do it! It has been the best thing I have ever done for my career. The best advice I could give is to make sure that you get along pretty well with the DVM you will work with. You are with them for a lot of hours, especially in the car. It’s so important to always keep an open line of communication and to not let anything fester. Kris and I are completely honest with each other all the time. When something is bothering either of us, we talk about it.
OAVT: RVTs are passionate people, and every RVT has an area they are most passionate about. What is YOUR passion?
Tarra: I have always been interested in behaviour. It fascinates me as to why our pets do what they do. It would break my heart to see so many stressed/scared patients in clinic and there is only so much you can do to help them cope with their surroundings and situation. It is one of the reasons that I wanted to take things mobile and give our patients more time to feel comfortable with our presence.