As we begin the celebration for Vet Tech Week, I was reminded of the technician who made me the technician I am today. When I started in this field as a kennel attendant, progressed to a veterinary assistant, and then became a baby technician there was a technician who inspired me. I was very green and to be honest, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I had to be instructed on the simplest tasks and when it came to anything technical, I knew absolutely nothing. I was young and totally clueless.

But as clueless as I was there was a technician who took a chance on me and mentored me. This technician was Nancy DeRoy, from Gig Harbor, WA. When we worked together she expected the best from me. If I didn’t know how to do something she told me, and she framed it in a way I would remember. As a new assistant, one of my biggest weaknesses was keeping my face too close to patients. At that point, I didn’t realize how every patient didn’t necessarily appreciate me lowering my face to theirs to say “hello”. Yeah, it was a rookie mistake and I was a rookie.

Nancy and I would often talk to each other after work while her dog ran around outside. In typical noob fashion, I bent my head down to her dog to baby talk him. He instantly snapped at my face. Nancy looked at me and told me that she had told me dozens of times, but this time I could have been hurt. I needed to take this seriously. And I did. Every day after.

Nancy was a technician who had been practicing for decades. This had given her a wealth of knowledge, that sometimes I took for granted. She continued to share that knowledge with me anyways. She was good at her job, tough as nails and would always tell you what she thought. She could give constructive criticism but never forgot to be kind. We would have long discussions about our lives after work and I remember being inspired by how much she had achieved. You always knew what she thought of you and she always told you what she thought.

As, I progressed from an assistant to a veterinary technician, she would share more of her tricks and tips to make my job easier. Not only did she do that, she was like a mother. I could ask her questions and come to her for advice. I ended up leaving the clinic we worked at, but we still kept in touch. She was a guest at my surprise baby shower when I was expecting. When my son was born she sent cards and gifts to the hospital. As my son grew, she would buy him clothes and always loved to see pictures of him. She was a mentor, mother figure and friend.

Sadly, as lives got busy we lost touch. In 2013 Nancy succumbed to cancer. I knew she wasn’t doing well, had arranged to go visit her the next day. When I woke up that morning, I got the news she had passed away. I never got to tell her what an impact she had on me. That she shaped me into the tech I am today and whenever I struggle, I ask myself what she would do.

We all have technicians who have guided us to be the person we are today. Thank them. Tell them you appreciate them. And above all, be a technician who inspires others. We never truly realize the impact we have on a person’s life. How the small things we do mean so much to observing eyes. We can all be a Nancy. We just have to care. This vet tech week remember those who’ve meant something to you. Celebrate the fact that you have meant something to many someone’s. Your coworkers, clients and patients. You matter. I didn’t get to tell Nancy how much she was appreciated. But thank you all for everything you do every day. It matters.

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

Jade is a licensed technician of 9 years who lives in Port Orchard, Wash. She enjoys emergency and critical cases, dentistry and creating a bond with her clients and team. During her off time she is busy keeping up with her two crazy Basenjis!