Career Spotlight of the Month (June 2019)
Name: Tammy Bramley, BSc RVT
Current Job: RVT at Mount Brydges Animal Clinic
Q & A with Tammy
OAVT: Where did you go to school, and what made you decide to take a Veterinary Technology program?
Tammy: I attended the VT program at Northern College Haileybury Campus. I have always known I wanted to work with animals, just not the format.
A few years after graduating from university I was volunteering with wildlife and knew I wanted to help wildlife in some way. I did some research and discovered that Northern had a wildlife program. I actually wasn’t happy I had to take the veterinary technician program first and was adamant that I would not be a "veterinary technician" working in a veterinary clinic lol. The program won me over!
OAVT: You have an interesting degree - a Bachelor of Science in Primatology! Which came first, the BSc, or becoming an RVT?
Tammy: I earned my BSc before becoming an RVT! Before I discovered that primatology was really a thing (I had heard of Jane Goodall, but who thinks they can actually go into the jungle to study monkeys and apes as their job?!?!), I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do and how exactly I wanted to fit working with animals into my career. I knew I wanted to make a difference somehow, I just didn’t know how.
I took a physical anthropology course at Fanshawe College and met Lorraine McNeil, my amazing professor! Lorraine has such a passion for human and animal rights and her passion for primates was contagious! I learned so much about primates from Lorraine and the dangers they face with bushmeat, deforestation, the pet trade, palm oil, etc. It was from Lorraine and the Fanshawe courses (I took all the ones I could!) that I fell in love with orangutans and decided that I wanted to do something to help primates. I was told that the University of Calgary had a Primatology program and still couldn’t believe this was actually a thing! Two years later I was enrolled!
OAVT: You completed a 3-week field school in Belize studying black-handed howler monkeys. What was that experience like? What knowledge did you gain from that work in the field?
Tammy: I can honestly tell you that experience is one I appreciate more now than I did at the time lol. It was really tough, to be honest. It was hard work, gruelling (at times) conditions, incredible, unbelievable, exciting, and scary, you name it! It was the perfect way to get a taste for field work and I came out of it with a greater appreciation for those who perform field work as their career!
My experience in Belize helped me to work on my research and study skills, how to complete field work, and obviously enhanced my knowledge on black-handed howler monkeys. Most importantly to me, though, it taught me a lot about myself! I realized I can make it through uncomfortable conditions, how to deal with unforeseen obstacles, and also helped me see a strength I did not know I had. I am so grateful for the experience I had and would not change a thing!
OAVT: Do you think your experience with primates and field work in Belize has made you a better RVT?
Tammy: Absolutely! I think all of my animal experience, be it practical or theoretical, has helped. As I referred to before, my primate experience (Belize specifically) helped me find a strength in myself I did not know was there. Working in a veterinary clinic involves some very challenging and difficult situations, and this strength has helped me through a lot of those. Working in Belize was also very team-oriented, and working as a team in a clinic is crucial! Communication, understanding, helping one another – all apply to both situations! Belize and my BSc in general was a great stepping stone for that next chapter.
OAVT: Tell us about your time volunteering with Salthaven Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Centre. What were some of your responsibilities?
Tammy: Brian Salt, like Lorraine McNeil, has instilled a love for wildlife in me that always had the potential to be there! He really brought it to the surface for me. Salthaven is an incredible place where orphaned and injured wildlife are brought to be cared for with the intention, and hope, of being released back into the wild. I started volunteering in 2013 and became a trainer-in-training in 2014. I was lucky enough to work there as a trainer the summer between my two years of tech school.
Unfortunately I have not been out there much the last couple of years, but am hoping to change that this summer! While there, I worked with cottontails, raccoons, squirrels, numerous songbirds, Canada geese and ducks, fawns, chipmunks, weasels, beavers and infrequently with raptors. Responsibilities included dishes, feeding the animals, medicating, admitting and triaging animals, training volunteers and trainers-in-training, helping with releases, etc. It is not always the most glamourous jobs that need to be done, but every single job is important and matters to the individuals that are there!
OAVT: You're now working as a full-time RVT at Mount Brydges Animal Clinic, where you have been a client since you were a kid (so cute!). What do you love about your current job?
Tammy: I love being able to make a difference. It doesn’t matter how big or small that difference is. It could be comforting someone after they have lost their beloved animal, making them feel as though their animal is the most special (my co-workers can attest to the fact that I say every animal is the cutest and I just love them all, lol), or just answering questions that may ease their mind. I also love the variety we see in our clinic. We have had some really interesting and unique cases and get to partake in some pretty neat surgeries!
OAVT: RVTs are passionate people, and every RVT has an area they are most passionate about. What is your passion?
Tammy: I really enjoy education and hospital patient care. I think it is important to continue to educate myself as an RVT (I try to choose my CE carefully and choose things that I am interested in), and I also think it is important to educate clients in many different areas – I care about their furry family members, and if I can use my own experiences with my cats to help someone else, I will.
Over the last year I have had two young cats go into acute kidney failure for unknown reasons and I have learned so much about kidney disease. I have been able to use this personal experience to educate others and help them to feel they are not alone. My clinic is perfect for this, as with our growth, the RVTs get more facetime with clients! Knowledge is actually one of our core values and we try to use the knowledge we have to the best of our ability!!!