Vet Teams IRL: Gustavo Carerra
In the Vet Teams IRL series, we meet veterinary technicians, customer service representatives, managers, kennel staff, veterinary assistants, and vet tech students working on the frontlines of vet med.
It’s an unusually warm October day in Manhattan. I’m on a Bronx-bound D train watching the stops pass as I slide further into the Bronx, past 96th Street, way past Yankee Stadium, and up to Fordham Road. I walk about three blocks from the station, down 188th Street, contemplating if I have enough time to grab pastelitos from Bakery Cuchifritos.
This is my second time heading to Bronx Veterinary Center, a bustling neighborhood practice where I’ll be teaching regional nerve blocks. As I walk in, the receptionist ushers me back and I am greeted by Veterinary Assistant Gustavo Carerra. This month we will be speaking to Gus about why he loves vet med and why he sees a bright future.
Tasha McNerney: Gus, your vibe is unlike any other and you just radiate warmth and compassion. How long have you been in vet med?
Gustavo Carerra: I started volunteering while in high school close to 27 years ago. I worked in other fields, but I always gravitated back to the veterinary life. I like being around animals. It's my comfort zone.
TMc: This practice (Bronx Veterinary Center) sees all types of cases, and the days I have been here you all have been very busy. You must see a wide variety of cases—do you have a favorite?
GC: Emergency cases are the most exciting, but the most rewarding for me is dentistry. It's a great feeling when patients come back for a recheck and you hear from clients how different and how much happier their babies are since the dental cleaning and treatment.
TMc: You know my favorite are the pain management cases. Are there any pain management cases that stick out in your brain as memorable?
GC: Yes, his name was Bubba. It was about five years or so ago. He was a 6-year-old, slightly overweight Rottweiler. Sweetest boy Rottie I ever encountered! He had bad arthritis in his knees and hips, but not bad enough for any type of surgery yet. The best treatment at the time for him was laser therapy. At first, he was nervous with his protective goggles on, and he didn't want to move. By the end of the treatment cycle, he would come in, get into position, and wait for his goggles. It was like he knew the laser treatment helped him and he knew he looked awesome in the goggles. He would start to pose once the goggles were put on him!
TMc: Your clinic serves a large portion of the community here in the Bronx, and I was impressed that you can offer so many services without turning folks away due to finances; you always seem to make it work. What’s the secret to your spectrum of care?
GC: We see so many clients every day who desperately need medical care for their pets, but they have very limited finances. The doctors and staff work hard to keep our prices low, and we will always work with people to help them find different ways to get their pets the help they need. We host a Haunted Hospital Fundraiser for Halloween and all of the money we raise goes to a fund that helps clients pay for care when they can’t afford it. I feel like what I do really makes a difference.
Our clients really appreciate all we do for them. It's really rewarding to see them return with their pets after we've gotten them through a serious illness. Our clients may not have a lot of money, but they really care about their pets. I'm happy that we can help so many.
TMc: I’ve come to your hospital a few times now to help train in anesthesia and pain management and each time I am impressed with how the doctors, techs, and assistants all work well together and communicate effectively.
GC: When techs are used to their full potential, so much can be accomplished. From the doctor all the way to receptionist it becomes a team effort to help the patients and clients. Working as a team makes a career in veterinary both rewarding and satisfying.
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 Gustavo Carerra
Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors.