Alyssa Nilles has spent the last week at the Medical Lake Veterinary Clinic getting herself familiar with the office and duties assigned to her. For Nilles, who is the clinic’s newest technician, this is the first step to achieving her dream of becoming a veterinarian.
With her father and grandfather being farmers, Nilles, a Medical Lake High School alumna, has spent her entire life around animals. The spark for her goal to become a veterinarian came during a moment in her childhood.
“I bottle-fed a calf when I was in elementary school and I thought ‘I ought to take care of these animals,'” Nilles said. “My grandpa asked then me if I wanted to be a veterinarian.”
Nilles added that her mother’s love and compassion for animals also inspired her.
“One time we rescued a dog from a puppy mill,” Nilles said. “When we brought it home, she sat underneath the table with that dog for two hours.”
Although nearby schools like the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University offered a good program, Nilles decided to leave Medical Lake and attend Whitman College in Walla Walla.
After she graduated college and finished her prerequisites for veterinary school, Nilles returned to Medical Lake and applied for a job at the clinic.
“I job shadowed the doctors and my family used to bring the animals to the office,” Nilles said.
“I didn’t expect to get the job right away. I would have been happy just to volunteer here.”
According to Jeanette Dutton, the clinic’s business manager, technicians rotate office positions and perform a variety of tasks every day, including preparing for surgery, dental cleaning, postoperative duties, reception, lab work and monitoring anesthesia.
“This type of model requires extra training,” Dutton said. “It can take a technician up to a year to get everything down.”
Dutton said that Nilles will work under head technician Heather Smith, though the other technicians and doctors are also taking their time to help her learn the ropes.
“We train more than other clinics and we’re extremely picky about who we hire,” Dutton said.
Nilles wants to attend WSU to receive her veterinary certification. Clinic doctors Heather O’Bannon and Trina Dutton both attended the school and Nilles hopes to learn everything she can from both of them.
“I plan on asking them so many questions,” Nilles said.
When asked if anything makes her nervous about working at the clinic, Nilles replied “the phone calls.”