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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Burcaw

VEGgie Talk: Life in Emergency Medicine with Allegra Overby, LVT & Shift Lead

Updated: Apr 11

For the next installment of our VEGgie Talk blog series, we had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Allegra Overby, LVT & Shift Lead at VEG in Houston, TX and getting her take on all things emergency med.

 

Allegra, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.  Can you share a little about your journey into veterinary medicine?

After high school, I started my journey in life straight into the medical field. I worked in human medicine as a CNA, and then grew into an EMT in the ER.  My background in medicine has always been a passion for me. I never had a plan of what I wanted to be, just knew that I loved people and medicine. I always had affection for pets and have always been the kid who finds strays on the street and brings them in the house.  I got burnt out on human medicine, and I knew that I wanted to stay in medicine, but I didn’t know what else was out there for me. There wasn’t a lot of background on vet med outside of being a veterinarian.  At that point in my life, I didn’t want to go back to school for 8 more years to become a veterinarian because it wasn’t realistic for me in my life. My parents didn’t help with my schooling, and I was a single person living life with my own apartment in the thick of it, struggling to figure out what life looked like for me.  I took a step because and realized I wanted to do this medicine thing.  I’m watching RNs in the ER do cool procedures, not too often, but once in a blue moon, we would get to do a lac repair or sedated procedure.  For the most part, it was just charting and passing meds, so that wasn’t enough for me. I started doing some research and I found the veterinarian technician role and I thought to myself, “Wow! They do all of this? They do the x-rays, and the blood work, and the surgeries, and just one person does all of this?!” I watched a lot of YouTube videos about being a vet tech and I found Pima Medical Institute and I enrolled.  I’m an impulsive person and when I get an idea, I want to do it—right now.   I think the day I got the idea to go back to school, I started calling schools to get enrolled. That sparked my joy, and I started learning more about the field. Right away, I knew I didn’t want to work in human medicine anymore—so let’s go find a vet tech job.  


I applied and was offered a position at a facility in emergency medicine where I worked for 2 years throughout vet tech school and I learned a lot.  I got licensed and moved to one other specialty facility in emergency med, and then I found VEG! I had been hearing so many things about VEG and how wonderful they were.  I was told to apply, but I didn’t think they would pick me since everyone was jumping on the VEG train, and what makes me so special? I applied and didn’t hear back.  I had a friend who got an interview with VEG. At first, I was like what “What?!” Then I realized that I was missing my emails!  Soon after, I spoke with a Talent Team Member and got on board to open up the new Houston hospital where we just made a year.  I’m a Shift Lead there and I’m trying to advance more and more every day.  Also, I just enrolled back into Penn Foster to become a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager.  I am thriving and surviving in this wonderful and crazy world of vet med, and still learning and growing every day.

 

How about your journey into emergency medicine?

My experience in human medicine ER was amazing.  I loved the rush, I loved the traumas, I loved the stats, and I wanted to continue that.  In my stint in veterinary medicine, I never had the passion to do general practice. I love the hustle and bustle and not knowing what is going to walk through the door.   There is no book that tells you how to do this thing. You can’t read a book on how to get a pole out of a dog’s leg.  You have to just use your detective skills and McGyver some stuff and get in there to save lives. That is the thing I love about emergency medicine.  You never know what, when and how.  People don’t expect emergencies, so when you’re actually able to help pets pull through and go home wagging their tail, they really feel like you are a superhero, and that is what continues to drive me. I love it!

 

 

What is your role at VEG?

I’m a Shift Lead at VEG. It is my job to keep the flow going.  I make sure that everyone on the floor has adequate help and that pets are being seen in our 60 seconds that we promise to the pet parents when they walk through our doors.  I am there to coordinate the pets are being that seen, that people are getting the help they need, and that our staff members are able to do those x-rays and bloodwork with help. Also, I usually am the floater on the floor to jump in when things are getting hectic and when someone needs and extra set of hands—to place an IV catheter interrupted momentarily by a huge kiss from her adorable 2 year old daughter, Bliss or when pet parents need that extra comfort. I make sure that everyone is playing their part and making sure that pets are getting appropriately triaged and taken care of on time.

 

How has your experience been working with VEG?

VEG says that this is the job you want to brag to your friends about, and it really is!  I often talk to my family about how wonderful and amazing my job is. Not only because I get to do this, but also because VEG treats you like people.  I have had so many terrible experiences in vet med unfortunately, especially being black in vet med, and I don’t feel that as much as VEG. They really listen to you. People are going to be people,  but VEG really gives you a place to feel like you belong. Workplace was one of the eye openers.  I’ve never had this forum at another job. It makes you feel like you’re heard and understood, and you can collaborate with people you’ve never seen before, and they still treat you like family.  VEG has been the high point of my career. I am really happy, and I think everyone should jump on board the VEG train.  Whether you are in emergency med or not, jobs need to treat people like people, and I think that VEG is doing that appropriately. 

 

What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone aspiring to get into ER Med?

 Knowing that this is what you want to do—ER medicine isn’t for everybody. There are high points, but there are some really low points. I’m sure that ER medicine sees the highest turnover of euthanasia, so it can get really sad. So, just knowing who you are, being ready to learn all of the things you never thought you’d learn, and being receptive to that.

Being an open communicator—vet med is hard, but it’s so rewarding. I want people who are interested in coming into vet med to know that this is something that you want and know that the sky is the limit as far as learning and growing.  You can do whatever you want, and be whatever you want as long you can be receptive to training and coaching.

 




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