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Veterinarian Technician December 2012 (Vol 33, No 12)

Editorial: Follow Your Magnet

by Julie Shaw, KPA-CTP, RVT, VTS (Behavior)

    Julie Shaw

    Julie (arrow) in second grade.

    I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting on a piano bench with my second-grade teacher Mrs. Kinsey, and she asked me, “Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?”

    And I said, “I want to hold animals when they are sick.”

    She said, “Oh, you want to be a veterinarian!”

    I remember how adamant I was when I said, “No, I want to be an animal NURSE.”

    That was in 1972, and veterinary technology was in its infancy. Somehow I already knew that was what I wanted to do. It never felt like it was something I “decided”—rather, something I just was. Hence my relationship and struggle with the “force of the magnet”…

    Almost 30 years in this profession, and I still yip in happiness when I see animals that suddenly “get it.” “It” being when they discover they can talk to me, and we can have a conversation. I still become giddy over puppies and kittens and cry during euthanasias.

    But there were dark days…days I considered leaving veterinary medicine because I wasn’t challenged. It wasn’t until I stopped fighting the force of my own professional “magnet” that my passion and enthusiasm for veterinary technology not only returned but flourished.

    I am frequently asked by technicians, “How did you know you wanted to specialize in behavior?” My answer is, I didn’t know for the longest time. Even when I was offered the position at Purdue’s Animal Behavior Clinic, I was fighting the force of the magnet—how could I leave private practice? Finally, a colleague said, “Look at where you are being pulled. Behavior has always interested you, so stop fighting it and DO IT!” 

    I recently left academia to pursue other avenues of education in media and industry—the strength of the magnet is still strong, and I've finally learned to stop fighting it.

    Julie and her dog.

    Julie and her dog.

    I encourage all of you to reflect on your interests—where are you being pulled? It may be dentistry, management, critical care, or nutrition. What continuing education lectures do you most look forward to? Following your magnet takes courage, which has been defined as being afraid, but doing it anyway.

    Be courageous. Reflect on where you are being pulled, and then follow your own magnet. Just DO IT.

    NEXT: Feline Systemic Hypertension

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