Meet A Relief Vet – Dr. Anastasia Lucignani

I’m so happy to introduce this month’s featured relief vet. And when I say happy, I mean happy. Because Dr. Anastasia Lucignani delivers joy to the profession by bringing her smile to every job, finding balance by dancing and surfing and traveling, and choosing happiness in everything she does. Read on to find out more about a relief vet who has figured out how to love both her profession and her life.

What inspired you to become a veterinarian?

My childhood dog and sister, Molly, was hit by a car (a truck who didn’t even stop). Her jugular vein was lacerated and bleeding out from the inside! My Dad found the source and held it off until they rushed to our local DVM who performed a long, thorough, and I’m sure intense surgery. After many days of hospitalization, Molly came home a happy and healthy dog, and I knew I wanted to make a difference in other dogs’ and family’s lives like our vet did.

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

My first job was at a pizza buffet, which was a great start to customer service and delicious pizza! Soon after, I was lucky enough to start assisting under the DVMs at the local animal shelter. After that, I became a receptionist at a wonderful high volume GP/ER hospital that trained me as a technician and then I moved on to work in the UF SAH ICU before getting accepted to vet school. As a DVM, I completed a specialty and ER internship for a year. I taught students at the St. George’s University and then continued on to relief work in the States.

What made you switch to relief practice?

Relief work gives me the adrenaline rush learning experience I crave and allows me to live with more flexibility and freedom to pursue my other endeavors.

What are your favorite things about being a relief vet?

  • The challenge of working in different hospitals with different staff. I get to learn from so many others, bring what I learn to another team, reinforce the way I want to practice, and use the resources I have available to me wherever I am. It keeps me on my toes!
  • The ability to really help out when coverage is needed.
  • The flexibility to practice vet med and explore! Being mobile is not for everyone, but it works for me.

What are your least favorite things about being a relief vet?

The inability to follow through with cases, the difficulty in building lasting interpersonal relationships over time with staff/clients, and the lack of a routine schedule.

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

Everything in life is constantly changing. When hospitals or staff have to alter their course, relief vets are always there to support whichever practice they can so that our profession remains steady and animals/clients remain taken care of.

What supplies or equipment do you bring with you on the job?

Stethoscope, pen, name tag, phone/calculator/light, and a smile.

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

I mostly look for the chance to work there. However, I do prepare myself for whether they have specialists, a full staff, surgeries, and equipment.

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

Be open. Medicine, workflow, practice organization, the music that’s played- everything will be different each place you go. Use it as a learning advantage and persevere. The cases on the ER board will dwindle down eventually.

What is your most memorable relief job?

This year, I returned to Grenada to work at my vet school clinic. After two weeks of starting, the covid pandemic took over and the island went into lockdown. While it changed the usual island way of life, I was able to teach and help students with clinical medicine and in the new online version of vet school, as well as work cases that were special in such a small community. I felt like I really helped to make a difference.

What advice would you give new relief vets? (Alternatively, what advice would you give someone who is thinking about being a relief vet?)

You CAN love vet med AND other things- it is okay. If you are flexible, mobile, and not tied-down to any one-location commitments, then hop in a van or plane and go work relief!

How has the global pandemic affected your relief practice?

The pandemic has reinforced the need to stay healthy and to practice good health around others! It has also added volume, the challenge of being unable to read your clients in the room, and having to rely on so much phone talk.

What are your hobbies/passions outside of work?

Everything! Mostly traveling, sailing, surfing, music, hiking, climbing, snowboarding, dancing, and befriending all dogs (very crucial).

Anything else you’d like to share?

Vet med is a challenging cherry on top to the lives of those who choose it. Focus on the good, maintain health, do the best you can, and choose happiness in all that you do.

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