We conclude our series of profiles honoring the veterinary technicians who play such a vital role in providing excellent care for the animals we see here at the NC State by introducing you to April Chappelle, of the Veterinary Hospital’s medical oncology service. She comes to NC State after 16 years in general veterinary practice in Maryland.
What is your typical day like?
We see small animals -— mostly dogs and cats — in our area. Mornings are usually spent on the more routine aspects of our work: checking patients in, doing preliminary work like physicals, blood work and that sort of thing. Afternoons we focus on treatments like chemotherapy or doing things like biopsies.
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
Extending the quality of life of our patients. When we do that we’re improving the quality of life for our clients, as well. I’m a people person, and when we treat their pets, we’re really treating the people, too. Their pets are really an extension of the people themselves. I try to give the dogs and cats we see the best nursing care I can, like when we can an older dog that isn’t used to being in a kennel and away from home. I try to spend extra time with them and help them feel better while they’re with us. Our clients are very appreciative, and they show it.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Saying goodbye. And not just saying goodbye to the pets, but to the people, too. You develop a relationship, but then you don’t see them again. In fact, you hope you don’t see them again. That has been the biggest thing about transitioning from a private practice. We saw the same people over time and formed relationships with whole families. In fact, some of them still keep in touch with me now.
What made you want to go into this field?
I sort of fell into it. I was in retail in Maryland until one day our store was robbed in the late afternoon. My immediate manager was great about it, and we closed the store right afterwards, but there was some pressure from higher up to reopen the store for the rest of the day. At that point I decided to do something else. My manager actually was helpful, and I got a job working for a veterinary practice before I was even registered as a tech. I had always been good with animals — my mother used to say all the stray dogs and cats were always coming up to me — and I loved it. I eventually moved on to a different practice, the one I was with for 16 years, and they were very supportive of me getting my license and getting registered.
What is your most memorable professional experience?
It was when I was in the general practice. Part of our work was as a reproductive clinic. We did a c-section on a Samoyed that had two puppies. One of them didn’t make it, and I worked with the other one trying to get him to breathe for 30 minutes; usually it just takes one or two minutes. But when he finally came around and gasped, taking his first breath, the look on the owner’s face was worth all of it. The puppy became an award-winning show dog and was completely healthy. Overall though, I would say that life as a vet tech isn’t always flashy, but it’s very rewarding. I love what I do.
~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine