Vet Teams IRL: Stacie Kissel, CVT, RVT
Editor’s note: In this series, we meet veterinary technicians, customer service representatives, managers, kennel staff, veterinary assistants, and vet tech students working on the frontlines of vet med.
They are the heart and soul of our clinics. They provide nursing care, environmental enrichment, clinical care, and communication—and without them, we know the whole thing would go bust! I’m excited to bring you the first of a series in NEWStat, where we get to know the badass folks keeping our practices running smoothly.
This month we meet native Hawaiian, Stacie Kissel CVT, RVT. Her current role involves caring for patients overnight as an ICU technician at the Veterinary Emergency and Referral Center of Hawaii, and she also works as a program instructor at Oahu’s only veterinary technology program at Winward Community College.
Tasha McNerney: What are your favorite things about your job? I know I love those anesthesia cases where you have multiple CRIs going and you really get to use all of your skills. What are some aspects you love?
Stacie Kissel: When patients can go home to their owners after being sick in the hospital for anywhere from a few days to a week. I enjoy when all my co-workers can get the job done even when it seems like it's a never-ending cycle of patient care every hour in a full ICU.
TM: You are so right: Great team collaboration and a feeling of accomplishment go a long way in career satisfaction. I also love knowing that I have personally made a difference in the outcome of a case. Do you have a favorite case presentation?
SK: I love complex cases, like treating patients that are [in] DKA [diabetic ketoacidosis]. These patients have a better chance of recovering once you can get their BG [blood glucose] under control. It may seem to be a lot of work when on presentation they come in lateral or unresponsive. Once we're able to correct their BG and keep it trending in the right direction, these patients have a great recovery.
TM: I think one of the things I have been so fortunate to have on my own journey were career mentors like the fabulous Vickie Byard who sparked my interest in anesthesia. As an instructor at a veterinary technician program, you are filling that role and influencing the next generation of vet techs.
SK: Having a mentor or mentorship program is very important for our profession. It helps our green techs get through most of the stressful parts of learning to be a vet tech and they have someone that will help guide them.
TM: Do you have any personal mentors who have helped shaped your career?
SK: [There was a veterinarian, Eric Ako, DVM], who wanted to make sure that we were able to learn as much as possible in the clinic. When Windward Community College was in the beginning process of starting the vet tech program, he suggested that I start the process of attending the first vet tech assisting program. I was able to complete that program and then continued to the vet tech program. Since then, I've come back to teach the program that made all this possible thanks to Dr. Ako.
TM: You are doing so much, and you know this field is so stressful. How can you maintain your enthusiasm for vet med while balancing your outside life?
SK: Long nights in the ICU can be stressful, so I will have breakfast and drinks with my co-workers. This helps us come together, bond, and share our different crazy stories.
Tasha McNerney BS, CVT, CVPP, VTS (Anesthesia and Analgesia) is a certified veterinary technician from Glenside, Pennsylvania. She is also a certified veterinary pain practitioner and works closely with the IVAPM to educate the public about animal pain awareness. McNerney has authored numerous articles on anesthesia and analgesia topics for veterinary professionals and pet owners.
Photos courtesy of Stacie Kissel