Tag Archives: career

Different Areas of AuD

30 Mar

I need to make an informed decision about what type of audiology I might like to do.  When I was trying to gain admission into vet school, I always put small animal private practice (like the other 90% of applicants) because that was what I knew, what was easiest to get involved with, and that’s where most of my experience was at.  I want to actively choose my arena for Audiology.  So I went to the student academy of audiology website and here is what I found:


–>everything without ** in front of it is cut & pasted directly from the interview.  **are my thoughts and comments.

Beltone audm

**absolutely not! That sounds like either double the years in school or double the credit-load. Financially, that would be awful to pay for that much more school. Personally, I want to start working much sooner!

Walking about-July 2012 034

Intraoperative Monitoring AuD:
–>there is only one non-medical profession permitted to provide monitoring independent of medical oversight? That profession is Audiology

-2. What is a typical day like?
No such thing really exists in the OR, and for me that is one of the attractions of intraoperative monitoring. Many surgical cases begin before the sun comes up and may last into the night
**I think I would like a more regular schedule then veterinary medicine allowed. I want a cemented schedule of appointments, and regular work hours.

3. you have to be able to think on your feet to overcome electrical fields generated by drills, suction devices, beds and operating microscopes in order to have a signal that is stable and useful in helping to guide the surgical procedure.
**I’m tired of being stressed to the max, and this scenario sounds panic-inducing.

Educational Audiology:

Her first opportunity to provide audiology services was with the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board, providing itinerant audiology services to seven different Native American communities in New Mexico, Utah, and Southern Colorado for 13 years. She then went on to develop an educational audiology program for the Rio Rancho Public Schools in New Mexico and has provided educational audiology services for 20 years to students and staff.

**I think this sort of thing would be awesome in the short term!  I would love to help my people.  But I would want more stability eventually. . .

inner ear 2

2. What is a typical day like for you as an educational audiologist?
Every day is different, but I spend some time doing just some basic hearing screenings, repairing hearing aids, working with teachers to help them understand hearing loss, and working with FM systems. So usually about half of my day is out at one of the schools and then I usually return to my office to contact parents, write reports, and do more complete hearing evaluations. I have portable equipment that I take with me to provide some itinerant services out in the schools and then I have a sound booth and clinical equipment at my office to provide more complete evaluations. I don’t do any hearing aid fittings, but hearing aid checks and minor hearing aid repairs are a daily routine. I fit personal FM systems and provide monthly checks. Our district has purchased a number of classroom amplification systems for each school; three of our newer schools have classroom amplification systems in every classroom. So I do spend some time troubleshooting classroom sound systems and doing some teacher training with them as well.

**all of this sounds cool.  I wonder if I would miss actually fitting hearing aids, or if I wouldn’t love the fitting process in the first place.

3.  I am fortunate to have the opportunity to follow the students throughout their school careers. Some of my students I’ve seen since preschool and have graduated or are getting ready to graduate from high school and go on, so you get the opportunity to see how the students mature and hopefully become contributing adults. I have even tested the child of the first cochlear implant student I worked with.

**this would be amazing!  Unless you had to work with some sort of turkey, then you had to be with that person forever. ..


4. What are some of the limitations and challenges in the field of educational audiology?
I think one of the most important things that we need to do is the communication and collaboration with the teachers and speech pathologists, and yet this probably one of the most difficult things to coordinate because of the teachers’ schedules. Teachers are being required to do more and more with less and less. I think that collaboration is probably one of the most important things that we can do to support our deaf and hard-of-hearing students, not only with teachers but also with ancillary staff. Finding that time to collaborate continues to be a challenge. And I think sometimes just for people to understand the impact of hearing loss on a student’s ability to access instruction is a challenge.

**I totally concur.  Talking to my Mom, she is excited to make changes or learn about audiology and hearing, but just didn’t know the info.  I think I might have an advantage in this because my Mom is a teacher so I can see both sides of the story and fill in holes.

5.  to get involved:  Educational Audiology Association-EAA is probably the best value. It provides such relevant resources through the listserv. EAA also provides summer conferences that provide not only continuing education but also the opportunity to network with other educational audiologists and to belong to a community of people who have similar experiences and common goals of helping deaf and hard-of-hearing students become successful.

real estate agent

Industry Audiologist:

1.  I am currently employed as a product manager at Phonak U.S. and what that means is that I work with traditional hearing aids (BTEs, RICs, ITEs) throughout their life cycle. I work with our Swiss colleagues and our research and development team to get the right materials and to develop the right products for the market. Then once it’s brought to market I work with our sales and development team in the U.S. to train them on what the product does so they can in turn train the hearing healthcare professionals. I also discontinue the products when that time comes later down the road. -

**In my mind, I thought this would be more testing industrial workers for noise-induced hearing loss–something I’d be interested in.  I see now this is a fancy term for “drug-rep” aka sales.  Hell no!

2.  I thought, “You know, maybe I should join a profession that actually talks to people as opposed to talking petri dishes.” sales representative

**I’m the opposite.

3.  working with the veterans was amazing as well.

**Though, I think I would like this aspect.  But you could find it in other AuD niches as well.

4.  My typical day is crazy! I don’t really feel that any audiologist has a typical day. It’s always something different, which makes the field so exciting. Right now my day revolves around a lot of meetings with different departments from research and development, to science and technology, to marketing, to market insights looking at what are the market needs of the hearing impaired and how can we use our products to best serve those. I do a lot of work with the development and marketing of training material. How do we leverage the material we have and what’s the best kind of representation of material, be it print or digital, that we can give to health care professional so they can in turn help their patients the best way they know how.

**no, this isn’t for me.  I wouldn’t like all the travel or commissions, and I couldn’t be super-phony to sell-sell-sell!

5.  6. What are some challenges of working for a manufacturer?
Two things come to mind: One is travel. Sometimes the travel is amazing, like Switzerland, sometimes it’s not. For a lot of audiology positions within the industry, it does require an extensive amount of travel. You have to be flexible in your lifestyle, and really want to do that. The day to day travel can wear on you, so you have to be prepared for that. From the health prospective, to the family prospective, you have to make sure that fits within your life and the lifestyle you want to have. The travel does afford you the opportunity to travel and meet people all over the world and to see how audiology is done all over the place. The other challenge is that I don’t get as much patient care as I would like sometimes. I got into audiology to help people. As a clinical audiologist you get to do that every day in the clinic. Sometimes as you’re away from that you want to reconnect to that every once in a while. Luckily, opportunities within manufacturing allow for that but it’s not every day. Sometimes you’ll see a patient every once in a while, either working with a validation group, or working on a research team, or also going to help a clinical audiologist in the field. Sometimes you crave that patient interaction, which is why we all got in this to begin with.
**Just like I thought.

dino CI

Cochlear Implant AuD:

I think what really drew me to cochlear implants was the science-base and how frequently the technology changed; it was constantly evolving.  I liked being in on the cutting edge of that and being a part of the research and development and making it possible for deaf individuals, who before had access to amplification, but not with the same success that we are able to provide them with implants, actually be able to achieve near normal speech and language.  So that’s what made me really focus on cochlear implants and make that my primary area.

2.  typical work day?
So on a clinic day, it would vary between going to the operating room and assessing the internal device in the packaging to make sure it’s a functional device, and then again checking the device once it has been implanted, and then assessing the neural responses from that individual using the cochlear implant after the surgery is complete.  Another thing would be a cochlear implant work-up where we would do a full assessment unaided but also with amplification primarily focusing on speech understanding and working toward whether or not that person was a cochlear implant candidate and then discussing with them the devices available and helping them determine what would be the most appropriate implant for them.  I also do cochlear implant activations where implant recipients come in after the surgery and have their devices activated or turned on, so that would be the first time that they would hear or have access to sound.  After that it would typically be mapping, so coming back in for follow-up and testing, either to document their benefit and performance or to adjust and change their maps so that they could have additional benefit from the implant.  On research days, I would also be working with cochlear implants, but it would be testing different protocols for mapping and programming and seeing if we can come up with ways of improving that and making it better for patients.

**I’m not very familiar with what this would actually entail, so I’m not sure if I’d like it.

3. What do you like most about working in CI audiology? 
I think I like the fact that it changes so much.  I like the fact that the technology is always advancing, so you’re constantly learning something new, whether it’s software or equipment or parts and pieces.  I like the fact that it’s not static; it’s something that’s different all the time.  And I really enjoy the fact that you get a long-term relationship with families, so you learn to get along with your patient and kind of establish that rapport and the communication to help them do better with their implant.  It’s a long-term relationship so you really get to watch them progress over time.  I really enjoy having that relationship with the patients.

**I also don’t know how I’d feel about constantly changing technology.  It’s good that improvements are constantly making things better for patients, but how difficult is it to keep up with the new knowledge?  Would you have to go to tons of classes and work with product reps a lot?  Because I don’t think I’d like that very much.

**As for seeing a patient progress over time–that would be very fulfilling and cool.

4. What are some challenges that you face in your practice of cochlear implant audiology?
I think a lot of it would be based on reimbursement from the hospital standpoint as well as from the clinic standpoint.  I think we’re always battling concerns that because of the cost of the device and the reimbursement that we receive, which leaves a big difference between the two, and the shortfall that we receive because of that, that the hospital may at some point limit the number of implants that we can do, and we would never want that to happen because we want to provide this device to as many people as possible and to all people that would be candidates for it.  I think that we are always struggling to have enough time and equipment to be able to see all of the people that are actually candidates.  We have a high patient caseload and we work diligently to see all of them.  I think the numbers are increasing, which is great, but being able to have the number of personnel and the equipment and the resources to provide those services continually is something that we are always looking to improve and make sure that we have.

**It would be difficult to keep up on changing state and federal level insurance intricacies, and I would HATE the business side of this!  I would not want to have an overwhelming caseload, pressure to implant as many people possible, or a struggle to get the funds I’m worth.

4.  there is a lot of job security—so I think you’re making an excellent choice that way—but primarily I think there’s just a lot of job satisfaction.  It’s a very rewarding field.  You’re able to provide so much benefit to a patient.  I think it’s exciting to see that.  It’s exciting to have a long-term relationship with the patients and their families.  I think the field itself is exciting because it’s constantly changing; it’s very dynamic.  You’re stimulated intellectually because it’s always challenging to learn new equipment and software and take on the new knowledge, if it’s out there, and incorporate it into your practice, but it’s also fulfilling because you get to work so closely with patients over a long period of time.

**It sounds good a bad to me, and ultimately I still don’t know enough to make a sound (pun intended) decision about whether or not I’m interested in this avenue.

maculae 1

 Vestibular AuD:

there is a lot of job security—so I think you’re making an excellent choice that way—but primarily I think there’s just a lot of job satisfaction.  It’s a very rewarding field.  You’re able to provide so much benefit to a patient.  I think it’s exciting to see that.  It’s exciting to have a long-term relationship with the patients and their families.  I think the field itself is exciting because it’s constantly changing; it’s very dynamic.  You’re stimulated intellectually because it’s always challenging to learn new equipment and software and take on the new knowledge, if it’s out there, and incorporate it into your practice, but it’s also fulfilling because you get to work so closely with patients over a long period of time.

**I would really like seeing a few patients, but in a very in-depth way.  I think it would allow me to do my best work, without all the scheduling and financial pressures.

3. What do you like most about vestibular practice?
Many patients with vestibular problems can be helped. I enjoy discovering a patient’s underlying condition, giving them a tangible diagnosis, and providing treatment options that can alleviate their troubling symptoms.

**That was one of the best things in the veterinary field–seeing how something YOU did provided direct benefit to the patient.  That would be good.

4. What are some challenges of vestibular practice?
Insurance reimbursement is always a challenge with vestibular practice. We depend on insurance reimbursement for most of our diagnostic work. As reimbursement is cut, we have to be creative in how we stay a viable business.
**This is a hard one.  How do you get past this stuff?  I would want to worry that I’d be out of a job at any given moment.

5.  There are a lot of conditions and presentations that you see in this line of work (more than in a hearing-specific practice), so exposure is very important.  Do not listen to nay-sayers. I was told over and over again that an audiologist can not build a successful practice and/or career out of diagnostic work. I did not believe this for a second, so I was not held back. I have been able to commit myself to an area of audiology that I love, and I have experienced great professional success doing so (without selling one hearing aid over the past 5 years).

ear art 3

I really liked this series of articles!  It gives me more information so I can really know HOW to choose an area based on my personality, interests, and skills.  Instead of just falling into whatever is convenient.

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Transformation Count Down: Day 6–Priorities

26 Dec

Day 1: What is most important to me in life? That is, what are my highest priorities?  Have my actions been in alignment with my highest priorities?

I’m always thinking about this one.  And this morning I was productive toward my biggest goals.  I worked on my CV, and I think it’s as far as I can take it with outside help.  When school resumes, I’ll make an appointment to take it to the writing center to get tips and editing.  I also, worked on my six scholarship essays, which I’m happy about the effort put fourth, not necessarily the product.  This weekend I’ll see if my mom will listen to them and help me polish them up a bit–then I’ll just turn in what I have.  They don’t have to be perfect, and my heart isn’t really in it, so I’ll say good is good enough.  For this blog post though, let me outline what my priorities are, and if I feel those are the proper order and if my actions are aligning with them.

And just to confirm–this isn’t a post to replace last year’s goal achievement and next year’s resolutions.  That will be a big, seperate post.  This is more generalized.

Most important to just important:

-Establishing a career and the stability that comes with that

-Settling into a place that I like

-Appreciating my family

Really, I guess that sums up what I want in life.  This year, I have been working to align my actions with my top goals.  Sometimes it works out for me and sometimes I could do a little more.

Smaller actions that get me to the big goals–and am I doing them:

-I think a big action that will help align my intentions and actual output is staying sober.  I have started it and my mind is in a good place to keep at it.  This item alone will help me by leaps and bounds in every other area, and though it isn’t easy to abstain–I feel hopeful and uplifted already.

-re-tool my schedule to make education first (Yes)

-study (Yes)

-work on funding to pay for & allow school and save for moving & grad school (needs work)

**must work on scholarships, which means must volunteer and work on career-oriented extra-curriculars

**must min. spending

**must save more for the move to CO

-do little things for people I care about (needs a lot of work)

**As the last important priority, this one often shifts to the background.  I need to be more effortful and show more gratitude as yesterday’s post reminds me.  Little things day in and day out ought to help.  Small steps like smiling more, making eye contact, saying one nice thing, and letting go of frustration will take this a long way.

So that’s the transfomative blog of the day.  Priorities and how it’s all about the little, repeated actions!

Dealing w/Adversity Essay

18 Dec

So I hated every essay from last year.  I was going to just use them anyway, since this stupid scholarship application has spiraled out of control into a big, monstrous unconquerable task.  And I opened the application (furthest I’ve gotten in the endevor so far) and went to cut & paste last year’s work in there.  HATE!  Couldn’t do it.  I decided I would rather include 6 hastily crafted, yet more relevant pieces of writing.  And it felt good to get a somewhat fresh start on the project.  I decided not to let all my past writings go to waste though.  Why have a blog, where I’m constantly writing if I can never USE the words?  So I looked up key words and actually found some good starting points.  I did three rough drafts this morning, will do the other three tomorrow, then just edit from there.

college what i really do

I feel better.

And for your entertainment–an old junk essay from last year that I’m not using:

3.)  Dealing with adversity: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to address this challenge. Include whether you turned to anyone in facing that challenge, the role that person played, and what you learned about yourself..

Every little girl wants to be a veterinarian, but for me, it was not a phase.  I volunteered over 6oo hours at my hometown veterinary hospital.  Continuous employment at animal hospitals and a move halfway across the country later my hope of being admitted did not happen.  Between rejections and a dearth of funding when I was finally accepted, my veterinary dream was evasive.

As my dream unraveled, I had two choices:  I could give up and become bitter, or I could analyze what I liked about veterinary medicine along with my own strengths and weaknesses to find a novel career.  I searched for a more suitable vocation.  After much self-analysis, I figured out that the main aspect of veterinary medicine that drew me in was helping the helpless.  At a young age, I assigned myself position of animal advocate so I could provide a voice to those who could not speak for themselves.  I have always been interested in making a difference in the lives of those unable to communicate their own pain, needs, and desires, and I realized the fielddeer 3 of Speech and Hearing Sciences still allows me to do that.

Veterinary medicine readily becomes a childhood dream career, because most children grow up with animals or read about cute critters.  I was able to dig deeper and find a profession where I can utilize my assets and still share my compassion.  It is not in spite of my trajectory through pre-veterinary studies that I have arrived at this new career juncture.  My failures revealed a better option for my aptitudes, provided me with diverse background experiences, and generated the resolve which will allow me to excel in the speech and hearing sciences.


Grad School App Checklist 10/13

4 Oct

I love the hours of my new schedule!  Not so much how everyone at work treats me because of it–but *read this* I do not care about their $hitty attitudes or their horribleness towards me.  I am not at work to make friends or have social hour.  Be cool all you want.  I got a chilly go home from the doctor really early today.  I think it was meant in a mean, stigmatizing way–but boy was I happy to be able to study in my jammies!  I wish I didn’t have to go to work at all on Friday.  Also, because I didn’t have to work all day, I actually got to go to my department’s session on how to apply to grad school.  My school always puts things on Fridays–so I’ve missed them for the last 2 years because of work.  Here are some of the things I want to remember:

-What to look for in a program:

**research interests of faculty

**clin praticum opportunities

**size of cohort/class

**lifestyle of location


-Visit prospective school

**an official visit, w/meeting of department

**meet faculty

**official tour

**talk to students in program to see how they like it

-make myself a notebook of each university I am applying to

–include criteria

–write due dates

–what info to send

–how much in fees

-3 letters of reccommendation

–from faculty

***it’s OK to req these via e-mail

***it is also OK to req a meeting w/that person–to get to know me FOR the letter writing

***give them:


=====GPA–whichever is used, just specify how I arrived at that #

=====work experiences


=====volunteer/clin experiences

***put this info in a notebook w/table of contents to make it EZest possible for them to find info & write

***also make a checklist of what universities, what format, & dates of when these are due

***for things that I want them to be sure to mention–put a * or highlight or something

–letters from outsiders not weighted highly at all = don’t bother

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Career Goals Essay Brainstorm

28 Jul

I think I’ll have to write 2 essays–one for Audiology programs and the other for my back-up plan of SLP.


I would like to help an underserved population, but other than the Sioux Reservation, I don’t know what those are right now.

adults or a geriatric population, for essay purposes.  In real life, I don’t know about the different patient populations to make an informed choice about working with one over another.  Maybe I’d love deaf babies. . .  Who knows.
–> it is probably easiest to tailor these specifics to the shopping w/dad essay.

-include vet observation & diagnostics

Talk about watching the equine endoscopies and how interesting the diagnostic processes were to me.  Also mention how I have taken, developed, and viewed radiographs for that last 13.5 years in small animal veterinary hospitals.
-why am I interested in this?

I’m interested in dysphhagia because it blends my love of cuisine with my compassion for others.  I love food and can’t imagine the joy that is sheared away if you were not able to enjoy eating or had a fear of choking.  I would enjoy using my creativity to come up with delicious, but practical foods for people who are having difficulty eating.
-who do I want to help?

I want to help any age person that is frustrated with changing their diet, eating a limited vareity of foods, or has a fear of eating things they enjoy because of their health.  Sharing my passion for food and coming up with meals the patient not only can adjust to, but is excited to eat would be my career goals.

Writing plan options to incorporate the above:

-Tell about the best meal of my life, at Elemental and how everyone should be able to enjoy food.

Everyone knows on your birthday you get a special meal of your choice.  I knew I would only live in a real city for one year of my life, so I chose a restaurant that embodied the Seattle mentality-Elemental.  The location was right off beautiful Lake Union, over-looking Gasworks Park.  Situated in a complex of condos, the restaurant was so nondescript, without even a sign that we had to ask the UPS driver where to go.  We entered the stark white room and lingered by the front door, not sure of the procedure.

After being asked about allergies, our first plate came looking like it had been prepared on The Food Network.  The portions were tiny, yet elegantly garnished.  The smells emanating from the dish ensured freshness of ingredients, the colors vibrant.

-Describe a special occasion and show how many holidays and events revolve around food.

New Year’s:  No traditional food?  champagne

Valentines:  I hate this one.  Cheese, chocolate strawberries, desserts; wine, champagne

St. Pattys:  Non-holiday; too drinking-focused.  Corned beef & cabbage; beer

Easter:  brunch

Memorial:  Original intent subverted.  BBQ

Independence:  This might be good, because it’s not religiously affliated.  ribs, brats, hot dogs; beer

Labor:  Original intent subverted.  BBQ

Halloween:  Maybe religious people on committee who could be offended.  Candy, caramel apples, pumpkin seeds

Thanksgiving:  Too traditional, too cliche’, over-done

Christmas:  turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes & gravy, cranberries, yams, candy canes, chocolates, everything under the sun; egg nogg,

-Talk about my mom’s Indian fry bread and tacos and explain that food is often foundational to retaining culture.

I have enjoyed fry bread sopping with honey and butter since I can remember.  My mom would make it, and it was common, yet I knew it was special.

-Describe some canned cat food in a detailed way.  Contrast that with about how no person should equate eating with sustenance only–how it should be an enjoyable event.

Sound:  the clink as the can is placed on the counter, scraping metal of the can opener, metallic peeling of the lid being pried off, the suction sound of the gelatin-like food plopping in the bowl.

Sight:  The shiny, gelatinous mass; pinkish with mottled brown coloration; the rings of the can tattooing the meat-stuff; the circular shape of the mound of food; the gravy congealed at the bottom of the food; the mashed consistency when pressed with a fork.

Smell:  pungent, fish, meaty, salt

Touch:  slimy, greasy, wet, squishy, firm

Taste:  Does anyone want to find out?  There is nothing appealing about the above description, and no person should have to resort to this food.


Self Imposed Anatomy Blogging Hiatus

9 Oct

Everything extraneous will be discontinued for a bit.  I’m not sure how long.  However long it takes.  I have some posts in que, but they need some finishing touches and I’d like to add pictures. I just cannot take the time to work on it.  Here’s why:

I need a big-girl life.  And life is all about small steps toward big goals.  A big-girl life begins with big-girl paychecks.  Which means I need a big-girl career.  And that will only happen if I enter into a Masters and/or Doctorate program.  And so, it is absolutely imperative that I get a 4.0 GPA and I was not pleased with my 92% on the last exam. So I feel like I have to work ever harder to study, as I have an anatomy exam on the articulatory system–imperative to Speech and Hearing Sciences, and very involved. So read back on other posts and think of me while I memorize the bones and muscles of the face and skull, finish my completed muscle notebook, do the dreaded oral cavity examination lab (with some stranger, probably old redhead), face paint the facial muscles, attend a forum on ALS for extra credit, and write my big pathology paper.

I’m focused, I’m motivated, (my body is trying to get sick–but I will not let it), and I will get an A+ in this class! I’ll be back. . .  Wish me luck and ability to retain and recall what I study.

Guide to Vet Observation

23 Jul

Hello, pre-veterinary hopefuls–this advice is for you.

Getting experience in veterinary hospitals is IMPERATIVE.  You will need to know about this career you so covet.  A lot of kids, at one time or another, want to be a vet–but do you really know what you’re getting in to?  Maybe once you see it’s not all kittens and rainbows, you wouldn’t like it so much after all.  Also, you will need experience hours to put down on the application when you are applying.  Plus, admissions is so super-competitive that you will need to be as well-rounded as possible.  And finally, vet school can only teach you so much–so anything you learn above and beyond your curriculum will give you a leg up.  If you have not gotten your foot in the door, I suggest you do so.  Yesterday.  You can never start too early, or be too competitive of a candidate.

Talk to your local veterinary hospital, go to the humane society, join an animal-related club, even talk to the farmer/rancher down the road.  If you have already observed at one place–do not stop reading this post.  You need varied experience.  Vet schools want to see that you’ve worked in private practice, research, small, large, and exotic medicine.  The more, and wider your body of experience–the better candidate you will be.  Call, ask, beg, write letters, ask people already in the field, utilize your networks to get in the door–anywhere.  Once you get in at one, you will more easily get into others.  Job shadow, observe, volunteer, make a day trip, whatever–just get involved somehow.

*Just remember it’s the GPA that is ultimately THE most important factor*

Here are 6 tips for when you get in the door:

1)  Try to stay for a full day

Veterinary medicine is different every day.  That’s part of what makes it so wonderful and exciting.  So it really is difficult to try to schedule when you are likely to see the most interesting things.  If you are there for an entire day vs. a few hours, you will maximize your chances of seeing a variety of interesting things.  In between said exciting and interesting cases, refer to #3 on this list.  And as part of this one–bring you own snack/lunch.  You may or may not get an exact-timed, scheduled and timely lunch break.  And you certainly do not want to miss the most exciting thing of the day because you had to drive somewhere to pick up fast food.  Besides–when you’re on your feet all day and trying to remain engaged, do you really wanna chow down icky, fattening greasy food?  Bring in high protein food to help curb hunger pangs and maintain your energy throughout the long day.  But a lot of the time the boss will buy you lunch.  If they do–include it in the thank you card that I suggest you write in point #5.

2)  Expect to feel awkward and out of place.

You won’t know anything about the place you’re seeing on your first day there.  It will take time to build a re-pore, establish trust, and get into a routine.  This is expected.  Try to stay out of the way and avoid touching/interfering with things.  When I began volunteering at my local veterinary hospital in 5th grade, the great majority of my time was spent jumping out of the way of the volatile veterinarian. Firstly, just hang back until someone gives you the go ahead, and until you see what is normal around there.

3.)  Be interested!

Yes, you are feeling everything out when you first go to your animal-related experience.  This does not mean, stand there looking bored.  My biggest piece of advice is to maximize your time.  Take a small notebook in with you.  Ask questions!  The adults at veterinary hospitals love to feel important, impart their knowledge, and give advice.  Use this to your advantage and learn everything you can.  And you don’t just have to ask the vets and professionals.  Everyone there will have some useful tips to share.  You can ask the vets about the career, medicine, and veterinary school.  The techs can tell you day-to-day routines, animal care tips, and impart info on potential back-up career plans, and even the younger staff can tell you about the current pre-reqs, ins and outs of the application, give standardized test advice, and maybe even let you know how/where to get a (summer) job.

3)  Once you are comfortable–jump in and help.

With permission, observers and volunteers can file, run and grab things, clean cages, and help with light restraint.  Get in the habit of cleaning off counters once an animal is off of it.  It will just show some initiative on your part.  If you feel comfortable and confident–and the staff you’re working with is handling the big stuff–it’s OK to help.  Learning is multi-faceted and it will cement what you’re seeing and writing if you actually DO things too.  Just don’t get crazy and do anything over your head or without DIRECT supervision/permission.

4)  Compare–but in your head, not aloud–each place you observe.

Keep track of things you liked and didn’t.  Each hospital/place will have their strengths, tips, and awesomeness.  You will also see your share of struggle, weaknesses, and maybe jerks.  Write down what might work for YOU in the future, and things you should remember to avoid iwhen you’re the one running the show.  It’s OK to make private judgements.  But that is what they should remain.  Do not, under any circumstance bad mouth vets, practices, or clients you’ve encountered at other places–especially when going to a subsequent hospital.  It’s unprofessional, makes YOU look bad, and in this world of highly competitive veterinarians that often judge/bad-mouth each other without actually having seen anything in person–needs to stop.  Also, you don’t want to burn bridges.  And you never know what ties these people have to each other.  Veterinary medicine is an insular world.  To a lessor extent, don’t be the annoying newcomer that says, “But  ___________ does it THIS way.”  No one wants to hear it, and vets tend to bristle against change–especially coming from a new person they don’t know well.

5)  Write thank yous.

Your main goal is to learn about the veterinary profession, but your secondary goal in observing/volunteering is to garner support from people on the inside.  Whether it’s a future part-time job, letter of recommendation, or future veterinary partnership–or all of the above–a little appreciation goes a long way in fostering important ties.  If you are given the opportunity (and trust!) to get inside an animal related job, jot a quick thank you note to the hospital (or farm staff, or whatever relevant group of people).

6)  Move on

This is the part I was never that awesome at.  Because veterinary school wants you to both be well rounded and have a 4.0 GPA, after spending time at one place–go somewhere else.  Loyalty will only limit your knowledge (and references).  And getting a full-time job will not garner you more points from admissions, but less.  Right or wrong, they figure if you’re standing there with no responsibilities that you are learning more then if you’re walking dogs or cleaning kennels on the time-clock.  So after you’ve learned what you can, get into a completely different aspect of the animal world and learn everything you can (in a brief span) from them.

I guess I should mention why I am a person you should listen to.  My advice is sound:  I volunteered 633 hours at my local vet hospital, observed for 6 months at a large animal practice, helped vaccinate and Coggins test employee horses, and spent weekends helping at an Animal Sanctuary, and more that I don’t remember without looking it up.  I hope this helps.

Audiology Essay Outline–Maybe

9 Jun

This has been sitting in my drafts for so long, that I can’t remember how much it is or isn’t updated.  So I’m going to publish it.  Again.


Intro about non-direct path

vet story of non-verbal communication [short, short, short]

Cat Cues:

Squishing to the back of the carrier or kennel

big, dilated eyes

pinned ears

swatting with paws

turning head or body quickly

becoming stiff

scrunching head close to the body (neck disappears)

hunching to counter

grabbing with paws (looking to climb)

eyes darting around

trying to hide head

edging off exam table

hair standing up


rolling over

kicking with back feet

snapping jaws

shopping with my dad

finish vet vitals [short, short, shorter!]

talk about what audiology avenue I want to pursue [spend most time here]

I never did anything the easy way. Following my own path and taking my own, meandering route is just what I do. My journey to audiology was not a direct one. I veered through pre-veterinary studies before coming back around to my initial interest of helping people like my father.

This path was not time wasted though.

Every weekend of my childhood, my dad and I would go do the grocery shopping.  It was our special time together.  We went to a few stores, but the check-out process at each was always the same.  The friendly cashier would be pleased to see a father-daughter duo obviously enjoying each other’s company.  Maybe she would recognize us from weekends past and smile.  Seeing genuine affection and helpfulness was probably a welcome break from the normlacy of screaming and tantrums the employee encountered during the majority of the weekend.  My dad would proudly say “This is my good helper-girl.”

Then, the part I hated would arrive.  The checker would read out the total.  I didn’t hate this part because we couldn’t afford the items or even because my dad fussed at the price.  Neither of those things ever occurred.  What did happen was my Dad’s inevitable, “What?”  The checker would repeat the number, and I would be so embarrassed, knowing what was to come.  My dad still didn’t hear what amount he should write on his check.  My face would flush, and the poor cashier, desperate to get her lines moving, would eventually just turn the written numbers toward my dad so he could see his total for himself.  It is from that mortification that I felt, that I want to help people with hearing loss.  My compassion for my beloved dad motivates me to help others like him.

Growing up, I had no idea audiology existed.  Like most little girls, I was determined to be a veterinarian and work with animals.  Unknowingly, I was honing my communication skills especially non-verbal ones as my career trajectory led me toward veterinary medicine.  In my current job as an animal assistant at a feline exclusive veterinary hospital, I have to quickly asses cat temperaments so I can collect vitals and help with medical procedures.

The owners set the green cat carrier on the exam table and I announced I would be taking some vitals, in a cheery voice.  With my right hand I unlatched the door, and peered inside the cave.  Behind the worn towel was a crunched ball of orange and white fur.  Despite his large frame, Scrappy was trying to become as small as possible in order to evade the uncomfortable veterinary visit he was about to endure.  Unpreturbed, I reached in and scruffed Scrappy with confidence, tugging him toward the door and asking the owners to provide resistance by holding the kennel in place.  I joked that Scrappy was doing the “kitty splits” as he splayed his legs in all directions in a final attempt to remain in the safety of the box, which I’m sure he fought tooth and nail to not enter at home.

Finally extricated from the box, I suggested the owners take away temptation by putting the carrier on the exam room floor.  Scrappy, hunched to the counter, was still trying to be invisible to my probing hands.  His ears were pinned and his eyes were darting wildly searching for any escape route.  He tried to creep toward the edge of the counter and settled for burrowing his head under the crook of his mom’s arm as I fitted the stethoscope to my ears and took Scrappy’s heart rate–as expected it was accelerated.

Next, I needed to get Scrappy’s weight.  While asking the owners about the brand of food he ate, and his eating habits, I picked him up to get the number of pounds we were dealing with.  I could feel Scrappy’s body stiffen.  He was shaking with fear, and I knew if I did not leave him alone, which I couldn’t just yet, that given the chance, he would scratch or bite to get away from me.  While maintaining the conversation about Scrappy’s water consumption, I tried to scruff the chubby cat, but he defensively scrunched his head, making his neck disappear entirely.  I held him close to my body and well away from my face then kept my hand on him when I put him on the scale.

“15 pounds!” I announced as I carefully placed Scrappy back on the exam table.  He whipped around and I yanked my hands out of potential harm’s way.  Scrappy had a mind to bite me to get away, but after I gave him a moment held himself together.  I gave his ears a pet and he relaxed somewhat.  His owners cooed at him and gave him lovins and he settled down further.  I was pretty certain I could obtain a rectal temperature without him flying off the table in a fury.  As his owners were distracting him I eased up his tail and planted the thermometer.  Nine seconds can be so long!  At first, oblivious to what was going on behind him Scrappy soaked up the attention.  Then, he gave me a sideways glance, stiffened his posture, and I could see his hair begin to stand up.  He turned and swatted at me with his claws just as I removed the instrument.  “100.5, right in the normal range!”  I sang out.  “I’ll have the doctor in as soon as she is available.”

Using both verbal communication with the owners and non-verbal cues from the kitty I was able to obtain a history on the patient, collect quantitative data for the veterinarian, and soothe both people and pet.

The Personal Statement

10 Mar

Yup, I’m going to do it. Against my better judgement.  So before the good stuff, you get to read some MAJOR disclaimers.  I will post my favorite personal statement that I submitted with my most recent vet school application.

First off, I was not accepted to school.  Take that as you will.  I was exceptionally happy with the way this essay turned out, but the admissions committee might have hated it.  I hope reading it over will give someone an idea of how these statements go, the way to utilize space, and mostly to step out of the box and dare to be different from everyone else.  If nothing else, you can see what you DON’T want to do in your personal statement.

Disclaimer 2:  I was afraid someone would plegerize my work, but honestly, I can’t use the thing so someone might as well be inspired by it (hopefully). If you’re lame enough to steal my idea or copy it word for word–well, you know what you did. You will someday fail at life when there is no one left to copy. Also, I hope whichever school or program you turn in it to is smart enough to Google it and gets connected right back to my blog.  But really, don’t be a ball-sack and steal the idea or content.

Disclaimer 3:  Writing these are difficult and time consuming.  I started out by brainstorming all the possible ways I could make such a formulaic, relatively short piece, both contain all the pertinent information, mention things I wanted the committee to know, and be a little unique.  Once I had my idea, I wrote the first draft pretty quickly.  Then the editing began.  I think I had at least 20 drafts–maybe more.  Everyone I KNEW read and made corrections and comments.  Every.  Word.  Counts in these things.  There is not one single word that wasn’t scrutinized for clarity, flow, and meaning both explicit and implicit.  Many thanks to my boss (especially!), my mom, who has always been a great personal editor, and Cool for helping me with some of the best revisions.  But thanks to assorted Facebook contacts as well for reading it over and helping me improve it.

So without further ado, here is my latest Veterinary School Application Personal Statement in all it’s glory:

Veterinary medicine attracts the type of person who loves bodily fluids. In my years of experience I have not yet encountered a veterinarian who does not take great satisfaction in draining an abscess and seeing copious amounts of pus.  In my daily duties as a veterinary assistant, I see urine, vomit, and blood and never think twice. Many times I am adorned by those substances, yet I find it amusing.  As I learned during my employment, in addition to loving disgusting things, maintaining good humor is imperative in the veterinary profession.


I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of veterinary medicine and I still want to engage in it.  One Christmas Day, and I counted 128 dogs and cats staying at the hospital where I worked for the long weekend.  Before I pushed the heavy swinging door open, I heard the cacophony of barking canines.  Once inside, the pungent aroma was evident.  As you can imagine, it did not smell like flowers in the kennel rooms.  As the dogs realized they were about to be momentarily freed, their decibel would intensify.  Flashes of brindle, wheaten, and merle three stories high Riverdanced a metallic jig, eager to escape their steel cages.


Stressed to be away from their owners, the animals would display negative behaviors. Since the pets did not always cooperate, maintaining their health and welfare required a degree of levity. As I hustled to walk, clean, feed, and medicate the patients, I would imagine what it would be like to be in their position.  I decided the best representation of me as a hospitalized animal would be the highly energetic and strong personality of a terrier.  Like the stubborn terrier that yanks on the leash, even after he has been corrected numerous times, my drive to enter the veterinary profession remains undeterred. As evidenced by my continuous animal experience, my ambition to become an animal doctor and own a veterinary hospital has never waned. Even when I have been issued corrections to “become a dentist” from practical pre-veterinary guest speakers, I continue to bound down the veterinary career path.


While in his kennel, a terrier might take his food, piece by piece, out of the bowl and rearrange it around the floor in an attempt to make the space more conducive to his needs.  Being surprised with an explosion of food bits when changing the harmless towel was a pain that required extra sweeping, but I could certainly empathize. If I were confined to a cubicle or a situation that stifled my desires, I too, would take steps to change my scenery.  In fact, growing up in a state without a veterinary college restricted my dream. I realize veterinary schools give preference to residents, so at that juncture I rearranged my life piece by piece and moved to Missouri to enter a strong Animal Science program and pursue residency in a state with its own veterinary college. Though relocating was a major adjustment and, at times, as messy as food confetti, I do not regret my decision. I gained agricultural experience and knowledge that was unavailable to me in my home state.


My trajectory toward veterinary school was not just shaped by moves halfway across the country.  I encountered resistance even when I received that coveted letter of acceptance to veterinary school.  The week before I was supposed to matriculate, my loan fell through and I had to drop my seat in the class.  It was devastating, and I had to mindfully conjure a terrier whose spirit is difficult to break.  I thought of my favorite terrier who hated his complimentary baths and would miserably shake off the water the entire time, but would regain his characteristic zeal immediately after he was dry.  I vowed to gather up my resolve and “shake it off” as well.  Back at square one, I had the opportunity to move to any state with a veterinary program to pursue my goal. In the same way I chose Missouri for its agricultural advantages, I picked Washington State due to the excellent reputation of its veterinary program.


My musings of being a terrier aside, it was satisfying to leave the once complaining pets in the kennel rooms happy and treated.  If the job had started out simple, without mess or struggle, the end gratification would have been substantially smaller.  Analogous is my journey to veterinary medicine–acceptance to veterinary school in particular. At times, the task feels monumental, the road to success convoluted and bleak. I am persevering, realizing my dream of entering into private practice in a rural setting will bring the utmost satisfaction.


My prolonged journey allowed me to amass technical skills, garner coping mechanisms, and observe veterinarians in an array of practices in diverse regions. If I had been easily accepted into a program on my first attempt, I might not appreciate the career this much. It is not in spite of my long struggle that I am currently applying to veterinary school in Washington; it is because of the struggle I know I belong here.

Starbucks–I Demand You Hire Me!

10 Feb

I would be awesome.  I could be there at 4:30 or 5 AM, make coffee, and would even clean.  I could be your best employee ever.  Just give me a chance.

More and more I find myself getting disgruntled with my job–to the point I want to quit.  I fantasize about getting school loans to cover tuition and living expenses so I can just focus on my studies.  I wish I were dating someone with a good job who could take care of me.  I even wish there was some part-time waitress-type job I could get.  Anything that paid me better, respected my schedule, and wasn’t life-or-death kind of stress.

I got out of work late on my half day.  And the doctor I liked suggested I still clock out at the normal time even though I had to do-work related things later.  What???  How do you say that you feel more comfortable getting PAID when you are required to go somewhere for work without looking like a whiny or confrontational jerk?  This always happens too.  But just to me.  Heaven forbid our tech have to come in on her day off.  And no one dares to mess with the receptionist’s (super-early, and extended) lunch.  And both of them get long lunches if they are about to get over-time.  But me?  It’s just expected that I’ll come in early, lose a portion or all of my lunch time, and stay late.  They always disrespect the fact I get a half day–because I am the ONLY one who works every Saturday.  It’s my trade-off, getting one half day off to make up for working every Saturday.  But I’m always late for it, losing it all-together, or harassed about when it will be.  Even though I am always early on Saturday, do the cleaning no one else wants to do, and work really hard–by myself–on our busiest day.

And they (everyone!)  insists on over-scheduling me.  Since they know I can handle it, they will triple-book the slow doctor, squeeze an appointment in one 10-minute slot, or throw in 2 animals in the time it takes for 1.  It’s really annoying, and stresses me out.  I am only ONE person, no matter how hard I work.  I guess they don’t realize it means I have to get to work even earlier then I already do.  It means that I have to prepare everything I can ahead of time so it’s ready quickly when it’s needed.  No one cares.  It makes me run, run, run, and it makes the clients have to wait.  I HATE being over-booked.

And yet, I’m the lowest paid employee.  With 12 years of experience AND being the only one with a 4-year college degree, save for the vets, I’m still paid least.  Yeah, it makes me apprehensive to work my guts out more then anyone else like I tend to always do.  But I still do it.  Though I am getting less and less happy about it.

Especially now that this is not my life goal.  I could hang on before and know that I would staff differently, schedule differently, and run my hospital better when the time came.  I could really bare down and stress myself to the max, because I knew it would pay off some day.  I knew it would get me somewhere, and that one day my job would have meaning.  But now I’m just another body at work, and this is just a paycheck to me.  I can’t stand the drama, and the unfairness, and the stupidity.  It brings me down.  I feel like I’m getting stressed for nothing, because I’m wasting my time here.  But I’m stuck too.

I WISH I had any other skills.  If the economy was better–especially in this region, maybe I could do something else.  Something low stress, that pays me according to the skill involved.  I was looking at job postings, and all the veterinary-related jobs demanded SO much!  You have to work the long hours, including weekends, have a vast skill (technical skills!) set, ability to work as a tech and/or a receptionist, be dependable–so much is required.  And all of those jobs low-ball you on the wages.  I was looking at a dollar above minimum wage for all of that.  WTF veterinarians?  You.  Cheap.  Bastards.

If I can’t be a vet.  I.  Want.  Out.


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