These are some wild times for vet med!
I mean, whose clinic doesn’t need help right now.
From GP to ER to specialty (shoutout to internal med!), a relief nurse can be a lifesaver.
If she’s not in your area, she may be soon.
Already working in Pennsylvania and Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware are next on her list.
It’s time you meet CVT, Kayla Shertzer!


Name your niche: large animal, small animal, pocket pets, and/or exotics? ER, GP, and/or shelter?

Small animal practice. I have done general practice, emergency/urgent care, and specialty.

Everyone has a story – what’s yours? What inspired you to become a technician/nurse?

I have LOVED animals since I was little. My grandparents owned a dairy farm growing up, and I can remember playing with calves, lambs, chicks and kittens. It really drew my attention towards the care and respect for these animals that support us so much. Throughout high school, I was keen to take agricultural and science based classes to better myself in the direction I was headed.

What roles have you had within the veterinary profession? How about outside of this industry?

I have worked in a variety of different hospitals ranging from general practice to emergency and my favorite – specialty medicine (Internal Medicine specifically). I have been a kennel attendant, weekend help, and even covered reception shifts. My main roll has been as a CVT.

What made you switch to relief practice?

My personal needs (work/life balance) and the need for relief coverage in my geographical area drove the decision.

Keeping it PG, what is your favorite relief job story?

I work with a specialty clinic on their procedure days, and we recently did a CT scan on a puppy with incontinence. He had an ectopic ureter (among other numerous things) which was incredibly interesting to see.

Prior to relief work, I got to CT and participate in an upper GI scoping of a wolf from a local sanctuary!

How do you feel that relief practice supports the veterinary profession as a whole?

I think it helps clinics fill in gaps without the financial strain of hiring and onboarding a long-term employee. It also allows clinics to have the ability to say yes to an additional person out on vacation or to cover a parental leave without feeling short staffed. It almost acts like a security net for staffing coverage.

What are your favorite things about being a relief tech/nurse?

I get to meet a lot of new people, share experiences, and teach fellow techs tips I have learned over the years. I also get to learn things I have never seen before.

Techs/nurses are known for their “Mary Poppins pockets” that seem to contain the world. What supplies or equipment do you bring with you on the job?

Notebook, stethoscope, and pens

What are your least favorite things about being a relief tech/nurse?

Having to turn a potential clinic down due to already being booked out for dates.

What do you look for in a practice when deciding to cover shifts for them?

I look for a practice that understands my capabilities and respects my personal time. I am always willing to give every clinic a chance, but I may not return if I personally did not feel that it was a good fit.

Have you picked up any unique practice tips while working relief? These could be related to medicine, workflow, practice organization, or anything really.

Every clinic has different flows. Pick a flow that works easiest for you and try to blend it with theirs. For example, I always take my histories the same way, same questions, same notes no matter where I am. For some practices it’s overkill, but I know I covered a detailed history that way.

Also, always ask where the emergency drugs are and the MSDS sheets. You NEVER know who/what might need them, and you may be the only help around!

What advice would you give new relief techs/nurses or to someone who is thinking about being a relief tech/nurse?

Be patient and be kind to yourself. You can’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t try to. This just means you have a target audience, and you shoot for those stars! Know your worth!

You also need to be adaptable and self-manage.

What states do you currently work within? Any other states in your sights?

Currently working in Pennsylvania and Maryland. I have my sights on New Jersey and Delaware, too!

What are your hobbies/passions outside of work?

Gardening, outdoors (hiking, hunting, etc.), watching movies, spending time with my cats and chickens, FOOD!


For more information on Kayla Shertzer, or to contact her, please click here.