ABC Veterinary Assistant Program
Student of the Month
Edith Theadora Haralampous
Edith Theadora Haralampous or “Thea” is an ABC Veterinary Assistant Student from Cleveland, Ga. Growing up on a farm, Thea was lucky enough to be exposed to a lot of different animals. That is where her passion for animals started. When she was younger, her cousin and his wife started an animal rescue operation and Thea worked with them every day after school and on the weekends. This is where she learned a lot about the care of animals and it definitely boosted her longing to help them. While in the program, Thea completed her 90-hour externship at Animal Medical Care where she was hired on for a full time position as a vet assistant due to her knowledge and wonderful work. Thea is now being trained as a veterinary technician.
What has been your most rewarding moment as a vet assistant?
We had a Labrador retriever who was brought in one day because she was having difficulty breathing. We did chest X-rays and ultrasounds and found she had fluid building around her chest cavity and it was putting an enormous amount of pressure on her lungs. A colleague and I held her while the doctor ran another ultrasound of her chest and found an opening in the middle of all the tissue; he then pushed a long needle in her chest and we began taking turns sucking the fluid out. Within a matter of an hour, we could feel a drastic change in her breathing. She was able to stand on her own and take deeper, longer breaths. When we had finished, and had pulled out as much fluid as we could, she turned and gave each of us a sweet kiss on the cheek, as if she was saying, “Thank you.” That was a really cool moment. Every day that we come to work, we might be given the opportunity to help an animal in need or even save an animal’s life. That in itself is the most rewarding part of what I do.
Describe a humorous moment that you witnessed or took part in while working at a veterinary hospital.
I love coming to work every day because with animals, you never know what to expect. We all have a lot of fun every day with the patients and each other. One moment that sticks out in my mind is the first time I drew blood from a patient. It was almost closing time and the doctor decided it would be a good time for me to try, so he sent me down after “Bam Bam.” I was pretty excited that he felt I was ready and had a skip to my step as I walked down the steps to the kennel. As it turned out Bam Bam was a 148-lb. Great Dane with a stare that went straight through you. Pretty intimidating guinea pig, but I knew I had to do it. The other technician working that day put pressure on his leg so that his vein popped out and began walking me through the process. I was so nervous that the first time I stuck him, I barely had the needle under the skin. I tried again and the vein rolled away from me. Everyone was watching by this point and I could feel Bam Bam’s eyes on me most of all, just sitting there in all his patient glory, wondering if I was ever going to be done. I held my breath and tried again—I got it. Everyone cheered and laughed as I started breathing again, sweat dripping off my brow. Bam Bam gave me a big kiss and I thanked him for being so patient with me. That was a proud moment for me, and pretty comical looking back.
Was vet assisting your first choice for a career?
Not at first. I love animals, but I never saw myself working in a medical environment. I always imagined I would do something more artistic or creative. However, after working in an actual veterinary facility I realized there is an art to the job and I feel so passionate about what I do that I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
What knowledge and experiences have you gained from becoming an ABC certified vet assistant?
The ABC program has been such a blessing. Without the externship program, I probably wouldn’t be in the position I am now. The program really opened up a door for me by placing me with a facility and giving me the opportunity to learn hands-on skills and prove that I have what it takes to be successful in the veterinary field. I have come a very long way from where I was in the beginning of the course, and I’m still learning new things every day.
What are your plans for the future?
I definitely plan to continue with veterinary school. Since I am currently getting trained at the facility I work with to become a veterinary technician, my next goal is to get my technician license. I would also love the opportunity to work with a rescue facility in my spare time and offer any skills I can to help. I feel so lucky to be a part of the Animal Medical Care staff and to have been given the opportunity to work with Animal Behavior College. I think this is just the beginning of a long and successful career in animal medicine for me.