Vet Teams IRL: Theresa Cosper-Roberts, RVT, CVPM, CVBL
You may know that veterinary Facebook groups have exploded over the past few years. In fact, the Facebook group I am personally an administrator on (Veterinary Anesthesia Nerds) recently hit 66,000 veterinary professionals. There are so many niche FB groups, in fact, that you can find a community of people who love the same things about vet med that you do, from dermatology to dentistry.
Somewhere amidst these Facebook groups I met Theresa Cosper-Roberts, a registered veterinary technician with such a passion for management that she went and obtained her CVPM (Certified Veterinary Practice Management) certification, which she uses in her full-time role as a surgical training center manager with Louisiana State University.
I talked to Theresa about what makes her stay motivated in vet med, and how a manager with an open mind can change everything.
Tasha McNerney (TMc): How long have you been working in veterinary medicine? What drew you to this field?
Theresa Cosper-Roberts (TCR): I’ve been working with animals in one form or another since I was 10 years old. For most of my teen years, I was a junior keeper and keeper aide at our local zoo. During my freshman year of college, I started working as an assistant at a local practice and fell in love with veterinary technology, particularly emergency and critical care. I love that there seems to be something new every day, and that there are always opportunities to learn new things.
TMc: What is your favorite aspect of your job right now?
TCR: My favorite aspect of my job is the time that I get to spend working with my students, both DVM and technician. It is an incredible privilege to be able to have an impact on future generations of veterinary professionals. I would love to spend all day in a classroom teaching others and helping them develop their skills.
TMc: You are all about clinics that fully utilize their tech team, why do you think this is important for career satisfaction? How does it impact the "bottom line" of the practice?
TCR: A recent study found that every fully utilized credentialed technician adds over $100,000 to their hospital’s gross annual revenue. Properly utilized staff allow DVMs to focus on practicing medicine and allows for a considerable increase in their productivity and subsequent revenue generation. This additional revenue can be used for salary increases and funds for opportunities for continuing education.
Finances aside, proper utilization of staff leads to increased employee engagement and decreased turnover. It allows team members to discover their passions and allows for additional educational opportunities within the clinic for others.
TMc: You are a big believer in continuing education, especially when people are moved into management roles: Why do you think CE is important for tech and career development?
TCR: One of the most wonderful things about life is change. Fifteen years ago, it was considered appropriate to wrestle animals to the floor for a temperature or blood draw. Ten years ago, it was okay to “box down” cats for anesthetic procedures, and less than five years ago, in some places it was acceptable to perform surgery without appropriate pain management.
Veterinary medicine is a dynamic field that is constantly evolving. Continuing education is vital to ensuring that we are providing a standard of care for our patients. CE provides opportunities for technicians to learn new techniques and clinical skills, as well as affording them the opportunity to discover new areas in which they may be interested.
From a managerial perspective, CE is critical to ensure that we maintain cohesive and productive teams with a good work culture. It also provides us with information necessary to tailor our managerial styles to suit the needs of different generations, as well as to ensure that we are doing everything possible to ensure that we are providing an atmosphere of inclusivity and belonging for all.
TMc: What advice do you have for techs that have been put into management roles but don't want to manage? What other career options do you see for technicians besides becoming a manager or supervisor?
TCR: According to my husband, I am one of the bossiest individuals on the planet, so I find being a manager incredibly rewarding. I love finding solutions to problems, as well as doing all that I can to help others develop to their full potential. However, being a manager can be incredibly difficult at times. It can be a heartbreaking, thankless job in which we must make critical decisions that affect the lives of others. It isn’t something that is for everyone, nor is it something that should be entered into lightly. Not everyone should be a manager, and not desiring to be a manager is more than okay.
There are so many outlets for technicians seeking opportunities for career advancement and fulfillment today. For those choosing to stay within a clinical setting, there are several different specialties available for technicians to pursue their VTS, as well as opportunities within biomedical research. For those interested in education, there are opportunities to teach at the university level, for both technicians and DVM candidates. There are also opportunities available in sales, insurance, and more.
TMc: So, really, there’s way more to being a leader than just the manager title!
TCR: You don’t need to be a manager to be a leader. You just have to be willing to allow yourself to grow.
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 Theresa Cosper-Roberts
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.