PCC Veterinary Technology Program- A Lesson in Triage

Posted: Jun 10, 2019
Views: 2967 - Comments: 2

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Over the past few months, atdove.org and Portland Community College (PCC) have been teaming up to create new and unique content! PCC has a Veterinary Technology program where students can become certified to work in animal clinics, zoos, and many other places. Learn from Kara Erdman, PCC student and soon to be CVT, about her educational experience in the vet tech program.


The dictionary defines “triage” as assigning degrees of urgency to. I can honestly say that the Veterinary Technology Program at PCC has been a true lesson in life triage, and has prepared me in ways that I didn’t expect for my future career as a CVT.

As I sit here now writing this blog, I am 25 days away from graduation. I am smack in the middle of 14 straight days of work, clinical rotation, and school. I haven’t had a hair cut in months, partially because I don’t have the time and partially because I don’t have the money. My dogs were crated for 8 hours today. I had boxed wine and leftover pizza for dinner and I need to do at least four loads of laundry. I am exhausted- and don’t regret a thing.

This program is demanding. Your schedule is made for you and offers little to no flexibility. You are assigned animal care duties weekly, and facility duties monthly. Your classes are mentally demanding. You are required to complete clinical rotations that work you like an employee but pay you like a volunteer. You spend more time with your classmates than you do with your families. You spend more time with the program animals than you do with your own pets. You live and breathe this program for two years, but for good reason.

I didn’t see it at first. It was obvious that what I was learning in my classes would prepare me for my career as a CVT- anatomy, small and large animal diseases, radiology, laboratory procedures, parasitology, record keeping, nutrition, etc. What I didn’t realize was how it was teaching me to triage my life. Over time, I’ve been learning how to prioritize friends, family, pets, school assignments, work, household chores, my finances, my mental wellbeing and physical health. And while I did eat leftover pizza for the last three meals, I can accept that I’m growing and learning every day. The most important thing I need to remember is balance.

This program is also teaching me emotional strength. I’ve been learning how important it was to listen to my mind and my body and to take care of myself so that I can properly take care of others. It was teaching me how to balance being committed and passionate about this profession without letting it consume my life. It was teaching me how to see the positives through the negatives- a skill that is invaluable in this profession. It has reminded me that anyone can burnout, and I need to know my boundaries to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

The PCC Veterinary Technology program is meant to prepare you to be a CVT- with all the good and bad that comes with it. Despite the hardships I have felt, I am so glad I decided to enter this field and complete this program. With graduation rapidly approaching, I am ready to close this chapter and start my life as a CVT!



Robert Dorgan's picture

As a former PCC Vet Tech Program student and current CVT, I enjoyed the story you shared here and can relate to it completely. I too remember the program being tough and yes it was much, much more than just lectures and school work - much like being a CVT is much more than playing with puppies and kittens. So i applaud you on your success and wish you the best of luck! - Rob, CVT