As part of our celebration of National Veterinary Technician Week, we present the third in our series of daily profiles of the hard-working vet techs indispensable to the compassionate care of the animal patients at the NC State Veterinary Hospital.
Angela Byers has spent 30 years as a vet technician, the last two in the small animal general hospital unit at NC State. Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Byers worked previously in private veterinary practices in Ohio and South Carolina.
What is your typical day like?
Our unit is frequently the last stop for animals that are transitioning out of their time in the hospital. They may have had eye surgery or orthopedic surgery or radiation treatments or neurological issues. Our job is to give them the individual attention they need to make sure they’re stable and ready to go home. We may do blood work or make sure they’re eating or help them walk with the use of a sling. We love them up before they leave us.
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
In private practices, where I worked for a long time, you’re often so busy you just can’t take much time with individual patients. Here we have the time to dote on them a little more and to give them individual attention that they need. For example, sometimes we have dachshunds that have had spinal surgery and they can’t walk. We can take the time with them to make sure they are really healing — and I think they heal faster when you do. We treat them like they’re at home, and like they are our own pets. We want them to be happy, and we want their owners to know that we are caring for them the way they would at home.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Sometimes I say that the hardest part of my job is making a left hand turn onto Hillsborough Street to go home. Honestly, everyone here — the clinicians, the techs, the students — is doing what they want to do. They all want to be here. I guess the hardest thing I can think of is once we had a 16-year-old dog, a neurology case, that was with us for four months. It took her that long to completely recover. By the time she left it was like she was my own dog. It was hard to say goodbye. And of course it’s hard if we find out that one of the animals that was with us has passed away.
What made you want to go into this field?
To be honest, I’ve always felt more comfortable with animals than I have with people. It’s the unconditional love that they give.
What is your most memorable professional experience?
It’s hard to think of just one. I think my most recent memorable experience was getting hired at NC State. I have four kids, the last two are twins, and when they went off to college my daughter who goes to Meredith [College] encouraged me to apply. I had been postponing going back to full-time work, and I had always wanted to work at a college, especially at NC State. I have heard of so much research and good work coming out of there for years. I was ecstatic when I got the job. My husband has been very supportive, too, even though his work is still in South Carolina, where he is a custom woodworker on Kiawah Island.
~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine