A Day on the Job: April Magnan, vet techBy ELLEN MOSES
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 30, 2002
April Magnan, 31
certified veterinary technician
Central Animal Hospital, St. Petersburg.
How long have you worked here?
January will be three years. I've worked in the field for 12 years.
What kind of hours do you work?
Usually 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. There are some night hours on days the office is open late, but it's a 40-hour week.
What are some of your job responsibilities?
We do a lot of things. We educate clients on the care of their animals; we draw blood, monitor anesthesia during surgery, clean teeth. We're also certified to intubate (put a breathing tube down the wind pipe), do X-rays and ultrasound. Each day is different.
How many patients will you and your co-workers see on an average day?
We probably see about 20 to 30 patients a day, between surgeries, vaccines and grooming. The majority of patients are dogs and cats. Myself and one other technician do all the TPRs -- temperature, pulse and respiratory checks -- and look over the patient before the doctor comes in.
What kind of training do you need to be a certified veterinary technician?
I moved here from Miami to enroll in the Vet Tech program at St. Petersburg College. It's a two-year degree program, and you have to take the Florida state exam for certification. In school we learned a lot about the anatomy and physiology of different kinds of animals. There are some continuing education requirements you need every two years to renew certification.
How did you get interested in this kind of work?
In high school I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, so my guidance counselor suggested I look into this since it was a two-year program.
What do you like about working with animals?
Animals don't talk back. They can't come in here and say what hurts, so we have to go looking for things. It's a challenge.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I would have to say surgery and radiology. I like the challenge of making an excellent film (X-ray) to help with diagnosis. In surgery I monitor the condition of the patient, and I like to watch him (Dr. Mark Brown) put them back together.
Is it hard seeing animals come in here very sick or injured?
If the client has the funds to treat the pet, it's rewarding to see the pet feel better and walk out of here and go home. We do have the depressing side, where if someone financially can't afford to do something, and the animal is either euthanized or turned over to the SPCA.
Does that happen a lot?
Not at this hospital. We see very little of it.
Any least favorite things about the job?
We try to educate most of our patients on the care of their pets, but sometimes we get animals in here where some aspect of their care has been neglected. This one we just did recently was an 18-year-old dog that had never had its teeth cleaned. It was a mess. He had 16 teeth removed. I don't do the extractions, but I do the cleaning and X-rays.
What is the most common procedure performed here?
I would say it would have to be spaying and neutering of dogs and cats. In the past two weeks we've probably done about six spays or neuters.
What are some of the hazards of the job?
Some of the hazards would, of course, be aggressive animals and possible biting.
Have you ever been bitten by a patient?
Of course, but not severely. It's not too common at this hospital.
How much money do you make?
I'd rather not say exactly how much. I come to work because I have a good place to work, I have a good boss to work for and I get good benefits. A lot of (animal) hospitals don't offer those things.
Can you give me a range of what most in similar positions might make?
The low end is about $18,000 a year and the high end would be about $35,000 for someone more in a management position. I think the average would be about $22,000, which is sad. We do the same things an RN does, but our patients are animals.
Do you own any pets?
I have four cats and one dog. My dog is a German shepherd named Shadow. The cats are Allie, Grouper, Tuna and Snook.
Any story behind the fish names for your cats?
I'm not sure how we got on that, but I think Tuna was the first one. His mom was hit by a car, and someone brought them into the emergency clinic where I worked when he was two days old. There were two of them, and they were to be put to sleep, but I just couldn't do it. So I decided to try and bottle feed them. One died, and Tuna lived. But the milk replacement made him smell like Tuna. It was awful. So that's how he got his name. He is 6 years old now.
Any other job you would like to be doing?
I don't know. I feel like I've found my dream job. I drive all the way from Brandon every day to be here. I don't make a fortune, but fortunately I have a husband would works in a good job, so I can afford to do this.
Did you ever consider continuing on to veterinary school?
There were different routes that I could have gone. I was discouraged after seeing other veterinary students come out of school with huge loans to pay back and coming out to jobs only making like $35,000. It just didn't seem like it was worth it. I guess I feel like it's more rewarding to be able to help the animals, to nurse them. And I truly have no stress. This job is wonderful.
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