“Second verse, same as…”
Nope. All technicians are different. But we DO all seem to have an affinity for tape.
Whether you’re in the market for a relief technician or for assistance with streamlining workflow – or both – Jennifer Kehoe can answer that call. Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, and Illinois (once you check your mailbox) grab your SUPs and reach out and welcome her to your clinic.
And while I feel it appropriate to apologize for the song that may be stuck in your head right now, I feel it more pertinent to apologize for the comeback of the fanny pack. Oh, yeah. Jennifer has one, too. The 80s are back with a vengeance.
Everyone has a story – what’s yours? What inspired you to become a technician/nurse?
Turning 30 was my inspiration! I had a B.S. in Political Science, did a very brief stint in the Army, and traveled the country moving from job to job with no true direction. I wanted a family and to settle down, so I asked myself “what makes me feel”. The answer? Kids and animals.
Teaching was off the table, so I began looking into jobs within the animal kingdom. I was living in Florida at the time with my best four-legged friend, Ozwald, a lab/blue heeler mix, and while at a Banfield Pet Hospital, I struck up a conversation with the technician. The guy was immensely positive and genuinely loved his job – and I wanted that! I made the decision to apply to the vet tech program at the University of Cincinnati, as that was where my best friends lived and would allow me to still be close to family.
What roles have you had within the veterinary profession? How about outside of this industry?
I worked in general practice for 3 years during school (2 years as an assistant, 1 year as a technician). From there, I transitioned into emergency medicine where I have spent most of my career, but I have also worked in internal medicine and ophthalmology. During my burnout phase (we all get there), I transitioned into operations which allowed me to ensure quality patient care by providing services to the emergency nursing and specialty teams and keep a multi-million-dollar hospital flowing efficiently.
Outside of the vet med world, I have a varied professional background that includes bookkeeping, marketing, legal secretary, cashier, executive administrative assistant, office manager, and wallpaper hanger. Yes, wallpaper hanger. I then decided to go back to school for an MBA while working fulltime as an ICU nurse and handling social media marketing for a social enterprise.
Prior to transitioning into the life of a traveling relief technician, I worked for an online wedding planning company as a customer service representative which was the best summer ever – hanging out with a friend living in Virginia. I then returned to Cincinnati for a supervisor role within a human clinical trial company.
What made you switch to relief practice?
I would love to say my work as a relief technician was a natural transition, combining my love of travel and my job, but it wasn’t. Like many in our field, I was burnt out – done – didn’t want to touch another animal. My goal was to break into the human working world of “real money” and leave the emotional succubus (a.k.a. veterinary medicine) behind.
Thankfully, life, and, oddly enough, COVID-19, pushed me in another direction. I had lost my human world job and was freaking out about how I would support myself when my unemployment ran out. COVID had effectively shut down the world – where was I going to get a job?!
How do you feel that relief practice supports the veterinary profession as a whole?
It provides technicians the opportunity to step back and rejuvenate without leaving the profession, thus attaining a healthy work/life balance. Relief work reduces stress on established teams that are having to cope with an increased workload and disproportionate staff. It also offers the opportunity to learn from others, to share gathered knowledge, and to improve patient care. As the saying goes: work smarter, not harder.
What are your favorite things about being a relief tech/nurse?
My freedom to build a life outside of work!
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?
I’m not that cool. 😊 My standard bag-of-tricks includes bandage scissors, hemostats, suture scissors, pens, markers, a calculator, a pocket notepad, my cell phone with protocols and such on my Google Drive, and my radiology badge – all in my stylin’ fanny pack.
What are your least favorite things about being a relief tech/nurse?
Simple: being around angry people.
What do you look for in a practice when deciding to cover shifts for them?
For me, the big decision wouldn’t necessarily be in deciding to cover a first shift, but rather if I would consider coming back for more shifts. My job is to provide the best patient care possible, so when the atmosphere and work environment allows for that, all things work out.
Follow-up to the above: do word-of-mouth observations and/or online reviews factor into your decision to cover shifts?
At this point, no, most of the shifts I cover have been due to my relationships with various doctors and technicians.
Have you picked up any unique practice tips while working relief? These could be related to
medicine, workflow, practice organization, or anything really.
Sometimes, it is the most basic of items that holds the world together. In vet med, that item is tape. When placing an IV catheter, wrap the anchor tape around the IV catheter prior to placement. Boom. Wiggly pet whose leg breaks free while flailing like a chicken? No problem, your tape is already on, just wrap and roll.
What advice would you give new relief techs/nurses? (Alternatively, what advice would you give someone who is thinking about being a relief tech/nurse?)
Be sure to understand the difference between relief work as a W-2 employee and relief work as a 1099 independent contractor. Set your boundaries for when and for whom you will work.
How has the global pandemic affected your relief work?
In an odd twist of fate, it was the best thing that ever happened to my career.
What states do you currently work within? Any other states in your sights?
Ohio is my home state, but I am also licensed in Virginia, South Carolina, and am certified with the vet tech association in Florida. I am in the process of obtaining my license in Illinois, but their process still involves snail mail.
Aside from English, what language(s) do you speak?
What are your hobbies/passions outside of work?
Relief work has provided me the opportunity to explore what life is like actually having a hobby and passion. I recently bought an inflatable paddle board (iSUP), and I am so excited about spending time out on the water! Once I have reached my financial goals this year, in 2022, I hope to also take horseback riding lessons.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Being a traveling credentialed technician has been an amazing experience and provided me a greater sense of financial security while having freedom to live life. The scary part is that at 46 years of age, I know that my shelf-life as a technician is limited. I am not going to be able to be a technician forever, so I hope to build my veterinary and operational services organization and to bring in the experienced younger technicians seeking change under my wing.
To learn more about Jennifer or to contact her, click here.