Almost twenty-four years ago, I stepped into the field of Veterinary Medicine. Younger, blonder than I am now, and so naïve. I had no idea what I was getting involved in. I thought, as so many do, that our world was made up of puppies and kittens, with a few sick pets thrown in between. I knew I loved animals (as we all do) and that I wanted to help them. How? I really had no idea. I thought I wanted to become a veterinarian. Every little girl’s dream and so very much in line with my childhood. I loved the animals we had in our family: cats, dogs, birds, fish, rabbits, hamsters, etc. My parents never begrudged my want for more, even after I dressed my cat in a cabbage patch doll outfit and took her to sit outside with me while I would read books. 

In my childhood thoughts, all of those sick pets always got better. They never died. Money was never an issue. Their owners were always pleasant and thankful. Happy endings were always the end result. I had no reason to think any different. In the movies, on TV and in the books I read, that is what always happened. Little did I know, that was only the case part of the time. 

Now, flash forward to the present day. How different my world has become. I decided to not go the route of becoming a veterinarian. I decided instead to become a registered veterinary technician. I am the medical manager of a large, nine doctor practice in Atlanta, with almost 70 staff members. I love emergency, critical care, surgery, anesthesia, pain management, client education and communication. My life is nowhere near just puppies and kittens. There are A LOT of sick pets in between. Some days, more than I can count. Days happen when the emergencies never seem to stop coming, each one more critical than the last.

How does that make me feel? How does that wear on me? Does that make me regret my career choice?

Some days I feel exhausted. Physically, mentally and emotionally. Some days I think I can do nothing right – can’t seem to draw blood or hit a vein.  Who can wrap their mind around solutions and dilutions? Decimals matter, a simple error can cause death. My patients sometimes die, no matter the best effort and every attempt possible. Clients get upset, defensive and even angry when their pets are sick. They lash out with emotions when they cannot pay their bills or when their pets die, regardless if treatment was attempted, performed or not.

The guilt that comes with letting them down weighs on me immensely. I cry with them – holding onto the 45-year-old man who had to euthanize his dog, his only companion, months after he held his wife’s hand as she died from cancer. Some days I am on an adrenaline high, helping my team to save patients left and right, with more positive outcomes than negative. Clients are thankful, hugging and professing their appreciation. Spirits are good, even giddy as we rejoice in the fact that our patients are doing well and survived. Does one of these days outweigh the other? Which do we live more of? Which do I live for? Or despise?

All of this being said, I do not regret my decision to move into the field of Veterinary Medicine or the path my Veterinary career has taken me. Each and every day I know I am putting my skills to the test and doing the best I can for each and every one of my patients. Do they all survive, to walk out of the clinic and sleep beside their people each night? Not always. Do I know at the end of the day I have done right by myself and those I represent in the field? Yes, I do. Each and every day.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial team.


Jamie Rauscher is a Registered Veterinary Technician and Medical Manager of a nine doctor practice north of Atlanta. She is President of Georgia’s Veterinary Technician and Assistant Association and serves on several NAVTA committees. Her interests include pain management, sick pet care, and anesthesia as technician empowerment. She is currently pursuing her VTS in ECC.