Vet Teams IRL: Ann Thelusma
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.
This month I am sitting down with Ann Thelusma, a veterinary assistant currently taking pre-vet courses and working in the surgery department at Philadelphia Animal Specialty and Emergency (PASE).
I work at PASE once a week helping build the anesthesia department and Ann is a ray of fricking sunshine whenever I enter that building.
Tasha McNerney: Ann, I know you love your job, but what aspects do you find really rewarding?
Ann Thelusma: I love the process of getting the patient prepped for surgery from dirty prep to sterile prep, I love the responsibility of prep and scrub. I also love scrubbing into surgery and learning about the surgery I am scrubbed into.
TM: I also love surgery, give me an R&A or hemoabdomen all day . . . So are you Team Ortho or Team Soft Tissue?
AT: I love orthopedic surgeries. They are usually the most complicated surgeries. My favorite is the femoral fractures. We do femoral fracture repair often and it is always fascinating to see how our surgeon takes the two broken ends back together as best as they can so the patient can have full use of their leg. But so far, my favorite single surgery I assisted with was a thoracotomy. The dog needed a pericardiectomy and due to complications, we had to also do a lung lobectomy. It was the first time I had seen and held the lungs and the heart. It is a moment that I love and cherish to this day.
TM: So, Ann, I know you are currently working as a surgical assistant to gain job experience, but what are your ultimate career goals?
AT: I want to become a veterinarian specializing in surgery. I always knew from a young age that I wanted to be a veterinarian but have decided to specialize.
TM: You are always so helpful when I come in to do relief shifts at PASE and I love seeing you interact with the team. Why do you think a team approach to veterinary medicine provides the best care?
AT: You cannot do everything alone, especially in medicine. That is the fastest route to burnout. Having a team with a general understanding of the whole picture and focus on their role helps lighten the load on all team members. I appreciate my team members because we all support each other. Even though we each have a role, we are able to enter another and help with the workload, so no one is drowning.
TM: You always seem so connected to your patients; I know it’s like picking a favorite child but . . . do you have a favorite patient?
AT: I do have a favorite patient. Her name is Penny, and she is a small red pit mix with the biggest deer in headlight eyes. She always looks petrified, but she is the sweetest baby. She was a patient for two TPLOs about three months apart. Sometimes I'm lucky and see her parents walking her in the neighborhood by PASE and it is always a pleasure to see her.
TM: So, the surgery department can be quite stressful. I know I like to unwind with trashy reality television at home. How about you? After a long day in surgery, how do you unwind?
AT: After a long day, I love to head home and snuggle my two kitties and bundle them with me as I watch a drama or read a book.
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 Ann Thelusma