A small white shaggy dog looks at the camera while being held by a veterinary technician

‘The human-animal bond is crucial’

Veterinary nurse renews connection with her patients and their owners through volunteer service 

March 18, 2019

Erin Spencerveterinary and animal sciences, writes in Today’s Veterinary Nurse about the clarifying role that her volunteer service lends to her career. Spencer has served in field clinics providing free veterinary care on Native American reservations through Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS).   


From “What Moves You: Changing Animal Welfare on Native Reservations”: 

Prior to joining RAVS, I had done some lecturing and training in my hospital and liked it, but it was RAVS that made me realize this was my passion. Watching a student place their first IV catheter or correctly assess their patient for the first time gave me a rush that made me remember how much I love veterinary medicine. It is immensely satisfying to watch a student—who on their first day at a RAVS clinic was on the verge of tears and barely able to assess vital signs, never mind record them accurately—develop confidence and skills as an anesthetist. Education became my passion. I went on to earn a Master’s in Education and changed jobs to teach in a veterinary technology program.  

Education wasn’t the only thing I discovered, though. Until participating in a RAVS clinic, I had always worked in private practice—primarily in emergency medicine—in an area where most clients could at least afford some treatment for their pets. Working in underserved communities gave me a new perspective on my life and, more importantly, the human-animal bond. Further, I learned that I really like working with the people!  

RAVS students and teachers in surgery at several operating tables in a large room

The community members are so appreciative that we give their animals much-needed care. Over time, I made a slow transition from a veterinary nurse who was solely focused on the patient with little patience for animals’ owners to someone who embraced the human-animal bond as crucial to treating the patient.   

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