I am going to Alaska. In two and a half weeks I am getting on a plane, and flying to Alaska. In January. You need to know something about me. I do not like extremes. One of the big reasons I live in Portland is because the weather here is not extreme either way (we don’t count raining every day for 8 months extreme, get over it). I started high school in upstate New York. Cold and snow, no thank you. I finished high school in St. Louis. Bitter cold and snow in the winter and holy COW does it get hot and nasty humid there in the summer! Again, no thank you. So how does a middle of the roader like me end up in Anchorage in January? I love to teach.
Far Country Animal Hospital is located outside of Anchorage. In the recent past they changed their hours to 24/7 to help the pets of the great white north. They hired more staff. They saw more patients. They needed help with training. For some reason it’s difficult to get good veterinary CE outside of Anchorage. There are no tech schools nearby. There are no vet schools nearby. There are no major veterinary conferences that are held in the Yukon (at least none that I know of... I probably wouldn’t go anyway, snow and all). They happened to find a new website focused on veterinary education, particularly technician education (ours) and gave us a call.
The atdove.org team and these folks in Alaska have been exchanging phone calls and emails for 4 months now. Through that, we’ve decided that the best way to get their staff trained up and ready to roll is to have a technician boot camp. Cram as much knowledge as possible into a one week period, teach the current staff so that they can train the future staff, and give them tools they can use to increase their knowledge and provide even better care to their patients. I am SO EXCITED to get started. This is PERFECT for me. Nothing is more important in a technician’s education than understanding the basics. I’m going to spend at least 8 hours every day talking about the basics and building up from there. I’m creating lectures, I’m writing quizzes, I’m thinking of questions to torture them with, we are going to have a nerdy good time!
This will obviously be quite the adventure for me since I’ve never been to Alaska. I’ve lived in some wintery places (the aforementioned upstate NY, Washington DC, Utah) but this is an entirely new experience. My new friends up north have offered to take me snowmobiling. I’m not a thrill seeker in any way, shape, or form, so I’m more nervous about that then I am about meeting 50 new people in a single day. I’ll be living in a place where the sun shines for 4 hours (thank you Portland for prepping me for that -- I live through many consecutive months of gray). I’ll be wearing layers upon layers of fleece, two pairs of gloves and as many socks as will fit on my feet. Again, not a fan of the sub-zero temps. But I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do: Teach. And teach technicians who are so excited to learn. Who, because of their location, don’t get as many CE opportunities and are ready for the chance.
And guess what? I’m taking you all with me! Every moose that crosses my path, flicker of the northern lights (fingers crossed it’s a good week for that!), every inch of snow, every awesome learning and teaching opportunity I can’t wait to share with everyone. I never knew it as a young technician, but experiences like this upcoming Alaska trip are what my career has been pointing towards and I am thrilled to be along for the ride.
Look out Alaska!