This dynamic CVT shares thoughts on the veterinary shortage, how she’s helping to recruit the next generation of veterinary professionals, and two of her favorite motivational quotes. (Teaser: One’s from Ricky Bobby)
Name: Dani Eberhart, CVT
Member of The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement since: 2020
Title & Organization: Veterinary Assisting Instructor, Western Maricopa Education Center
Q&A with Dani Eberhart, CVT
The Association: Describe yourself in 3 words.
Dani Eberhart: Resilient, determined, resourceful.
The Association: Describe the work of a CVT in 3 words.
Dani Eberhart: Fulfilling, emotional, evolving.
The Association: In your role as a veterinary technician, you have worked with many pets and their people. Is there a case that stands out in particular?
Dani Eberhart: Working in emergency medicine, you see the worst of the worst, and unfortunately, the cases that seem to stand out to you are the most heartbreaking ones, and the happy endings tend to fade to the background. I can say though, that there is nothing more triumphant than having a very sick patient come in and you’ve done everything in your power to help them, and a few days later you get to walk them out of the hospital.
The Association: Tell us about your veterinary assisting program for high-school students, and your favorite challenge as a teacher.
Dani Eberhart: My program is for high school juniors and seniors. During their time at West-MEC, students learn everything from animal behavior, body systems, and general care (vaccines and nutrition) to surgical assisting, laboratory machines, and pharmacy. During the second year of the course, students have to opportunity to go to a 100-hour externship with our industry partners. Once their externship is completed, they can sit for their National Veterinary Assisting Certification.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love teaching and working with West-MEC! Getting to see the light bulb come on for my students when they finally understand that complicated problem or system is the best feeling in the world. Not to mention hearing from my past students! I love hearing how well they are doing on their career paths and working in the field.
The Association: Share one small victory you had this week—personally or professionally.
Dani Eberhart: My administration pushing me and supporting me in getting my FEMA certifications, so that I can apply to do ASPCA Disaster Relief.
The Association: What’s one thing you’ve done to stay healthy and resilient this past year?
Dani Eberhart: Trying to focus on myself and the good that is happening around me. Tuning out all the negative and just saying, “It could be worse.” For example, this past school year we had students virtually and then in-person, and occasionally one or more students would be quarantined. I won’t lie—it was difficult to teach on two platforms, but I just kept telling myself, “It could be worse,” and adapted to the given situation. These situations would happen on a daily basis, and as I found the new normal with my students, we were able to continue to learn and grow.
The Association: Looking back at 2020, what’s one thing you started doing, either personally or professionally, that you plan to carry over into 2021 and beyond? What’s one thing you wouldn’t miss doing?
Dani Eberhart: Well, I can’t say that I enjoyed the lockdowns. There are only so many naps and TV shows you can watch. But I can say I started doing more of the things that make me happy, fostering animals, DIYing my house, and spending time with my family. Time with my family was the big one. In the past I was so focused on work, but after my Papa passed in August 2020, I said “no more.”
The Association: What’s one thing that folks who are not veterinary professionals should know about the veterinary profession?
Dani Eberhart: To be patient with your veterinary staff. Our patients don’t talk to us, and we have to figure out the best course of action for them based on the little information we get. We are short-staffed, overworked, and no, we are not here for the money. We are here because we want to help animals.
The Association: What are your thoughts on the veterinary shortage?
Dani Eberhart: It’s terrible. Because of the shortage in staffing, the staff is working extra hours and getting burned out, and clients aren’t able to get their pets in for 2+ weeks. I’ve seen the frustration from both sides, and I think all we can do during this time is start getting the new wave of professionals trained (like at West-MEC) and support the staff that we do have.
The Association: What’s your favorite one-sentence motivational tip?
Dani Eberhart: My real favorite quote is Ricky Bobby —“If you’re not first, you’re last.”
However, it isn’t always professionally appropriate, so for the professional world, here’s Ken Venturi: “I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.”
The Association: What’s the last movie you saw?
Dani Eberhart: The last movie I saw was Black Widow. My dad is a huge Marvel fan, so my siblings and I went with him.