Career Spotlight of the Month (December 2020)
Name: Alysha Birtles, RVT
Current Job: Lead Registered Veterinary Technician at the Lincoln County Humane Society Animal Clinic.
Q & A with Alysha
OAVT: Where did you go to school and what made you decide to take a Veterinary Technology program?
Alysha: I went to Georgian College, and honestly my whole life I have loved animals, but a few years back I had two Boxer sisters and one of them, unfortunately, had chronic kidney disease and we tried everything with her. At this point, I was in school to become a nurse, and I was very unhappy. I decided to do extensive research on chronic kidney disease in dogs, and that was it, I was hooked. Though even before that, my mom says that as a young child I wanted to work with animals in some way.
OAVT: We were told you recently became “Lead RVT”. What was that like? Did it come with increased responsibility? Does it allow you to use a different side of your skillset?
Alysha: Honestly, I was blown away by this, I did not expect it, especially just coming back from maternity leave. The role did come with increased responsibilities; I have been involved in hiring new employees, I’m more of a go-to problem solver for people and I oversee the inventory and ordering. I also get to put my organizational skills to work, which I was able to do before but not to this extent.
OAVT: The LCHS was the first and now is only one of two humane societies in the province to have a full-service clinic, open to the public. How does the full-service clinic open to the public work?
Alysha: We have a spay and neuter clinic that runs Mondays and Wednesdays, and Monday thru Friday we run a full-service clinic that serves the animals at the shelter but also to the public. We run like a regular clinic and have a separate entrance from the shelter. We are a non-profit organization and can serve the public at a lower cost than most clinics because of this but also to be able to aid the people that cannot afford some of the costs as well.
OAVT: Do you have a large role in that part of the operations (the public clinic)? Is it something you feel passionate about?
Alysha: I was one of the RVTs who helped open the clinic, which to me was such an honour. And to be able to help people when they need it and cannot always afford it but want to do right by their animals has always been something I am passionate about. We also get to help the shelter animals. Even though I do not work at the shelter, the fact that we help them is hugely important for me because before I even knew what an RVT was I wanted to work in a shelter. I’ve watched shows on tv to do with veterinarians, or with shelters since I was very little and I think it clicked in how much I love it.
OAVT: What other jobs have you had in the RVT field?
Alysha: During my second year of college, I was hired at one of the local veterinary emergency clinics, and I honestly loved it. I loved how fast-paced it could be and the interesting cases that came through the doors.
It was through the clinic that I am with now, that I had the opportunity to work with a veterinarian who specializes in rabbits. I have always loved rabbits but was too nervous to be around them and to work on them. This veterinarian went above and beyond to teach me all the tips and tricks she could in the short time I worked with her.
OAVT: What are your goals/dreams/plans for the future of your RVT career?
Alysha: My goal for the future of my RVT career is to continue being in my current position. Though I would love to go on mission trips to do spay/neuter surgeries in areas that need it the most. Or go into more of a shelter RVT role.
OAVT: What advice would you give to RVTs who have ambitions of being a “head RVT” at their clinic or practice? What skills or qualities do you think are important to have?
Alysha: My advice is to never give up on doing your best, honestly, I was not trying to become a head RVT at my clinic. I was just doing the best in my jobs. I do believe that being organized is important and willing to give it your all. I think that you have to be able to be there for those around you and be a team worker.
OAVT: RVTs are passionate people, and every RVT has an area they are most passionate about. What is your passion?
Alysha: Honestly, it would have to be spay/neuter, I love it. For spay/neuter, I like that I can see all the different cats and dogs that come in for the surgeries. But also, I like seeing the process from beginning to end. I feel like we are not only benefitting the individual pet but the population that we are helping to control by doing these surgeries. I love that we can give these services to people in a more cost-efficient way so more people are willing to do this for their animals.
The funny thing is that before starting to work here, spay/neuter is not something I would think I would be the most passionate about, I was petrified to start here. I did not think I would enjoy it; I was scared that I was not cut out for it, but now I cannot imagine doing anything else.