ABC Veterinary Assistant Program Student of the Month – April 2013
Mary Baloga was raised and still resides in Rochester, N.Y. She is completing her veterinary assistance program externship at Veterinary Specialists & Animal Emergency Services. Mary is a dedicated student who has a strong passion for helping animals. It was not always this way: Mary first pursued an education theater, which was her first passion. After finishing school, when Mary had some down time, she found something rather exciting: Animal Planet. From shows such as “Dogs 101,” “Cats 101” and “Animal Cops Houston,” she discovered that not only was she extremely interested in the field of veterinary medicine but also in the wellbeing of animals. She also discovered it could be a possible career choice and joined Animal Behavior College’s Veterinary Assistance Program.
- When and how did you know you’d be a successful veterinary assistant?
On my first day of my externship, there was a Doberman named “Bogey,” who was diagnosed with “bloat.” I took part in his treatment from start to finish. He was rushed into surgery and at that point I was surprised by not only how fascinated I was by the surgery itself but also that I understood—thanks to my studies—everything that was going on. The respiratory rate, blood pressure, monitoring of the anesthetic, it was crazy to me that I actually comprehended it. After the surgery, I sat with Bogey while he was recovering, petting and loving him. Sadly, in the end he did not wake up. The fact that I was able to handle this situation and seeing the care and concern that the staff showed for the patient and his owners just touched me, I knew I could do this and that I wanted to do this”.
- What has been your most rewarding moment as a vet assistant?
The most rewarding moment for me was with a dachshund named “Niki” She was recovering from back surgery and you could just tell that Niki was sad and depressed. When we brought her into the exam room to return her to her owners, I saw a totally different dog as she brightened up. Her owners told us that Niki was their child and just seeing them reunite after such a difficult recovery was so heartwarming and eye-opening.
- What was the biggest challenge you faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for me was trying to find the balance between working with small versus bigger animals and the feeling that I was going to hurt the former. One of the technicians, Lisa, guided me and helped me learn the proper way to help. She also assured me that less is more and pointed out the specific areas to focus the restraint on so has not to hurt the animal.
- What knowledge and experiences have you gained as an ABC certified vet assistant?
I gained a lot of experience with individual treatments per animal; for example, I got to work with a large stray dog who was injured. Learning how to help an animal who doesn’t want to be helped and was terrified of people was a great learning experience. Seeing so many dachshunds come in for back surgery was also eye-opening. In addition, I gained a lot of respect for X-ray technicians. It really is a delicate art and it fascinates me how precise they are with their images, while also keeping the comfort of the animal in mind.
- What are your plans for the future?
I am definitely going to pursue a job as a veterinary assistant, then possibly branch off into another animal-related position. For now, I would like to get settled into a private practice to become familiar with the doctor and staff. I would especially like to establish better one-on-one relationships with the regular clients and patients. This is something you do not get in an emergency facility since there are so many different people and pets in and out all the time.