A Day In The Life Of A TA/ACA

(Technologist Assistant/Animal Care Assistant)

By: Brad Scott


Who is the first person a NASCAR driver thanks when he/she walks down pit row and climbs atop the podium? If it’s not God or his or her wife/husband it will almost 100% of the time be his/her pit crew. The guys behind the scene who work their tails off to make sure everything in that race is ready, exactly how the driver wants it. Well, in your mind, picture your Veterinarian as the superstar driver and me, the TA/ACA, as the hospital’s pit crew.

A typical day here at Killarney Cat Hospital usually involves two superstar Vets. One as our appointment doctor (Checkups, Vaccines, Diagnosing potential illnesses) and the other as our Surgery doctor (2-3 surgeries a day) My job as TA/ACA with the appointment doctor is to be ready at all times for anything they may need, from handling frisky cats when taking blood samples or giving vaccines, to fully cleaning and prepping the exam rooms for the next appointments. My job as the TA/ACA for the surgery doctor is to have everything prepped and ready, so the doctor can be the superstars they are. Having the correct surgical tools in their ready position for whatever surgery is on the docket that particular day. Being ready to tear down the surgical suite with a full clean and having everything ready in place again for the next surgery.  I should also mention that, on most days here at KCH, we only have one TA/ACA on duty responsible for both jobs.

When it comes to surgery, the TA/ACA is a lot like the wheels on an airplane. We are very important for the taking off and landing of a surgery but unlike those wheels that just hide away in the undercarriage during the flight, the TA/ACA’s second half of their job starts during that time. CLEANING!  Once that surgery has taken off and is in the hands of the doctor and Registered Technologist, we TA/ACAs spend every spare minute keeping the hospital as clean as a hospital should be. Not a day goes by without having to do 3-5 loads of laundry and what seems like a never-ending pile of dirty litter boxes to clean.

Now, I can understand why some of you reading this right now might think to yourself that the TA/ACA position sounds like all cleaning and no fun, but take it from me, the overwhelming feelings of joy and accomplishment that takes over when nursing a sick animal back to health lives as strongly in me as it does our doctors, knowing full well that we couldn’t have done it without them and they couldn’t have done it without us. Sprinkle in a dash of that unconditional love that an animal in need shows to a human willing to lend a helping hand, and that is reason enough to keep me coming back.