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Purpose in Action 2022
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Wisdom and experience: An insightful conversation on career success with some of NorthStar VETS most-tenured team members
NorthStar VETS recently sat down with a few of our most tenured team members. The pearls that they gave us about finding career success, and where we're headed as a group are packaged for you below. Read this story to instantly benefit from decades of useful experience.
On Starting and Staying at NorthStar VETS
Whether it's to further their career, find the right challenge, or they simply fell into it, people join our team for many different reasons. Gillian, an overnight technician, falls into the latter category. "I had an opportunity after high school to come in as a veterinary assistant," she said. "I had no career plans at the time, and it seemed fate brought me here. I've worked my way up with help from so many different coworkers and never looked back." For some, it's the promise of working at a higher level that brings them aboard. Take, for example, Jessica, a veterinary technician working mostly in Cardiology these days. She shared that, "After working in general practice in northern New Jersey for two years, I decided that I needed more of a challenge. So, nearly twenty years ago, I applied to a variety of emergency/critical care veterinary hospitals and NorthStar VETS welcomed me with open arms." Similarly, Jenn, a veterinary technician who works primarily in anesthesia in the location in Brick, said, "I originally came to NorthStar VETS because I wanted to work at a hospital that practiced exceptional medicine." For others, they knew where they wanted to take their career and needed the right environment to make it happen. This was certainly true for Dr. LoScrudato of the Rehabilitation and Pain Management team, who said, "I originally came to NorthStar VETS as an Emergency doctor. While working in ER, I became certified in acupuncture, rehabilitation, and pain management, and I've been a part of that service since its inception."
Joining the team is one thing, but to make it five, ten, fifteen, and even twenty years takes the right mix of elements: namely good people and a clear vision. Being surrounded by the right people did it for Jess, who relayed, "The one big thing that has kept me here for almost eighteen years is the group of people with whom I enjoy working." Gillian felt similarly when she remarked, "The amazing people with whom I work both closely and in passing are a big reason why I've stuck around so long. I am also proud of the 5-star medicine we provide to our patients and clients." That last comment led into the things that were important to Dr. LoScrudato: good medicine and collaboration which both lead to continued learning. She stated, "Working with the best specialists in multiple disciplines provides me the opportunity to continue to learn on a daily basis. It's exciting to be part of an incredible team providing cutting-edge treatments and diagnostics." For Jenn, it was more personal. "NorthStar VETS has become my family. When I started, we were in our original location, and we all worked so closely together, especially in the surgery department."
What's Changed and what hasn't Over the Years
With a perspective close to two decades long, it's easier to see what has changed and what hasn't. This is important in being able to identify what truly matters. From milestones like facility upgrades to world events like the pandemic, change is constant, but on the other side, our team's love and commitment to pets never wavered. Regarding the hospital, Jess had this to say, "Over the years, the biggest change I've seen is when we expanded from our small hospital in Millstone into this large hospital in Robbinsville. Sometimes I think we have even outgrown this space!" Jenn remarked along the same lines when she said, "The biggest change is the size of NorthStar VETS! I never thought there would be three locations. Astonishing!" The pandemic most assuredly changed things, as Dr. LoScrudato observed. "The past two years have challenged us to provide quality care under very different circumstances and stress. Accepting the need for practice changes that help us communicate with and serve clients was initially overwhelming, but like most things, has become part of the everyday. Flexibility, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking allowed us continue providing patient care despite COVID."
When it comes to that through-line that has been our constant north star through the decades, Dr. LoScrudato captured it best, "People's commitment to their beloved pets." Jess made a similar observation with, "The one thing that I feel has stayed constant over the years is the TRUE love we have for the animals. Especially for the ones we see and treat over an extended period."
Hope for the Future
When asked to look forward, these tenured team members are filled with optimism. Gillian shared her vision for the future of the hospital with these words, "My hope for the future of NorthStar VETS is that it continues growing and adopting new and advanced medical care for patients." She also has a strong sense of where she'd like to see the animal health industry move, too. "What I hope for the future of the veterinary field is that we receive greater respect and are appreciated by others in-and-out of the field. It takes very special people to stay here long-term as it leaves a toll physically, emotionally, and mentally. For those of us who are fully committed, our goal will always be helping and healing animals, and I wish more people understood and respected that."
On Career Success
The right attitudes and behaviors make all the difference between having a short, tough career, and a long, satisfying, successful one. So, what specifically does it take? "Compassion, dedication and humility," says Dr. LoScrudato. She continued with, "Bringing your A-game to every patient, providing them with exceptional care every day, and interacting with each client with understanding, patience, care and concern." Gillian had a slightly different take, but with some key overlap. "The perspectives that continue to bring the greatest success in my own career are positivity, compassion, professionalism, and a strong work ethic." She went on to discuss her personal purpose, "Over the last seventeen years, my number one goal at NorthStar VETS has always been to provide my patients with the best care I possibly can. No matter what life has thrown at me over the years, as soon as I walk through those doors, my priority is my patients. No matter how busy a shift, how demanding a client may be, and no matter what's going on with my peers, my goal will always be to provide my patients the best care and comfort I can to help them heal and recover." Knowing your personal mission and how it fits in with the hospital's can make all the difference. Striking a different note, Jenn's advice is self-compassion. "Always go home knowing you did the absolute best job you could for your patients, your co-workers, and yourself. Stay positive. Choose to be happy, and keep healthy boundaries between your work life and your personal life." Jenn went on to give more advice around finding joy at work, and shared her favorite memory from her time at NorthStar VETS, "I remember when I became a part of the total hip team. It's a unique surgery that helps dogs walk again, and to be a part of that was a blessing."
Further Advice for (Potential) New Team Members
Above all else, Dr. LoScrudato wants you remember this: "We are a team - we work together and we complement each other." Your team has your back, even while you're still building your confidence. We've all been there, as evidenced by Jess' top tip. "Just be willing to learn. Don't be scared to ask questions. We would rather you ask than pretend you know what you are doing, simply because you fear what we will think." She added, "Come with an open mind. Remember that we were all scared when we first started working at NorthStar VETS." In addition to relying on and trusting your team, have patience in your journey, which was Gillian's number one piece of advice for newcomers. "Be patient and stay strong. Demonstrate patience in settling in and learning the ways of the hospital. Show strength in overcoming high caseloads and difficult and often heartbreaking cases. Some days can be overwhelming, but our patients and clients need us, and we need the strength of each other to get through the hard times." Jenn wants you to remember that you're human. "You will make mistakes," she announced, "And when you do, learn from them so you never make them again." She continued by advising, "Ask questions, even if they seem silly, just ask! Take advantage of working next to more seasoned team members because they know a lot of information and have a lot of advice for you." She also wants you to maintain a good perspective. "Don't be intimidated by the size of the building. Connect with the people in the building and see them as one working unit with one common purpose." Finally, Dr. LoScrudato encourages you to never stop learning. "Grow every day, and don't get complacent. Challenge yourself. Rely on your teammates and be reliable in turn." She continued, "Work together for the best outcome for your patients. Remember, for every patient you are caring, there are people at home missing and wanting them back with them." The top takeaways from this group are to work well with your team, show compassion to everyone you serve, and build your professionalism and excellence through growth and learning. Jenn's final words were, "I hope you feel as welcomed into NorthStar VETS as I did so many years ago!"
The future is now: Reflections and observations on the NorthStar VETS experience from some of our newest team members
For insight into what brings people onto the NorthStar VETS team right now and what matters most to them, NorthStar VETS sat down with three new-hires: a CSR, Assistant, and a Technician, to find out what brought them to us, how things are going so far, and their expectations for their futures.
The Value of Industry Experience
Just about everyone on the medical side of NorthStar VETS comes with prior experience and future ambition. Technician, Nina, said, "I'm not new to this industry at all. I started off working in the field in nearly twenty years ago. My husband got me a job working with him at the Humane Society. I worked in the office there, then started to help out more in the shelter. Eventually, I was trained to be the shelter technician, taking care of the sick shelter animals, and vaccinating new cats and dogs as they came in. I was there for three years, then became a technician at a small clinic until four years later when I started my family. I went back to work there a couple years ago and still help out there two days a week." Nina also told us about her stint in human health which sealed her decision to stick with pets. "I needed something more after being accepted into nursing school, because of a rough start. Even after getting back on the waiting list, I decided I really didn't want to work with humans. Animals are my passion, and I wanted to further my career saving animal lives." Similarly, Veterinary Assistant, Sarah, reported, "I've been in practice for about 5 years." Continuing that theme, Client Service Representative in Maple Shade, Amanda, made that claim, too, when she said, "I have been in the veterinary field for more than a decade working as both a technician and receptionist in private practice, animal shelters, and emergency medicine. I'm currently working to get my bachelor's degree in Animal Sciences online."
Why NorthStar VETS
The big question we want to know right now is what attracts new team members to NorthStar VETS. The good news for us is that our reputation precedes us, but we also offer something in return. For those looking to level up, like Sarah, they see potential at our hospital. She said, "I applied for the learning experience and for a higher-level, fast-paced job." That sounds reminiscent of what brought Technician Jessica on board nearly eighteen years ago! Amanda echoed Sarah with her sentiment, "It's a good time to be here as this industry expands and more people get pets. NorthStar VETS has a great reputation and I wanted the experience of learning new things!"
First Days Set the Tone
When NorthStar VETS asked these newbies to recount their first days with us, they had a lot to share! For Sarah, it was the personal interactions and small perks that sealed the deal for her. "What impressed me was how everyone introduced themselves to me and were so helpful with all my questions. If they didn't have an answer, they pointed me in the right direction. Also, they have snack and soda machines!" Amanda noted that welcoming atmosphere as well in her statement, and has already latched on to one very special coworker. "Everyone was so nice and helpful my first week here," she stated, "and, I'm looking forward to learning, gaining experience, and getting more comfortable with emergency medicine. Seeing more exotic animals is also a plus! But the big thing for me is I also love seeing Shady, the hospital cat, every day!" Nina had a few thoughts as well. "Everything impressed me right off the bat, from all the different specialties, how the ER, ICU, and wards functioned, to the way everyone works together. There are so many different types of cases, it is delightful! Once seeing the knowledge of the techs and assistants and the equipment they use, I was so excited to be a part of it!" Nina also shared her experience during one of her first days that she will always carry with her. "Recently, we had a 'STATurday.' There were so many stats in ER that day, sometimes coming in two at a time. The Emergency doctors and nurses all banded together and did an amazing job handling it all. That type of teamwork and passion is something I will never forget."
Hopes for their Time Here
All new team members at NorthStar VETS want to travel along a path that brings them growth, and there are many different paths available these days! Sarah wants to grow both personally and professionally, with big goals. "I see myself as a licensed veterinary technician and a practice manager someday. I'm looking to gain knowledge and experience around the ins-and-outs of the industry. Further, I hope to learn how to detach my anxiety from high-stress situations at the hospital (that's more of a personal thing)." Like the rest, Amanda has big plans for her future career and intends to take her first steps right here with us. "Once I finish my bachelor's degree," Amanda stated, "I'm thinking about applying to vet school, so fingers crossed!" Nina is also looking long-term. "I really see myself settling in at NorthStar VETS and becoming a CVT. I have always wanted to work here for the longest time, but was very intimidated about pursuing it. My excitement is around learning so many new things, helping animals, and I feel like I pick up something new every day!" We wish our new team members all the best in their journeys and are honored they chose NorthStar VETS as the place to make these dreams happen!
Read more about careers at NorthStar VETS.