When Bridget Hatch was in first grade, her teacher brought her horses in for Field Day. Hatch had her first pony ride that day and hasn’t stopped riding since. She attended South Shore Charter Public School, which required an internship—and, naturally, she chose her large-animal veterinarian as a mentor.
After Hatch graduated from high school, her mentor veterinarian offered her a position. For three years, Hatch worked part-time with her veterinarian while also working on a large horse farm on Massachusetts’ south shore and going to college. Riding was her passion, and Hatch thought from childhood that she would make a career out of it. “I thought I was going to ride ponies forever,” she says.
But when the Hospital for Large Animals at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center had an opening for a veterinary technician five years ago, Hatch saw an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. “I have been here ever since,” she says.
Hatch is responsible for ensuring that the isolation ward is running efficiently and taking in all daytime emergencies. In between those tasks, she typically floats between all the services and covers whatever help is needed each day. “I’m the go-to person when you need an extra hand,” she says.
Veterinarian Thomas Jenei of the general surgery service concurs. “Bridget is always ready to jump in whenever or wherever she is needed. In the middle of an emergency, when Bridget appears it’s like the cavalry has arrived!”
“I think the most fun thing is having the students come in that are not large-animal-oriented and a little bit nervous around horses,” Hatch says. “By the end of their rotation, they end up being some of the best students, and it's really fun to watch them grow.”
Her teaching style is to have the students “watch one, do one, and teach one” for each of the key skills they need to learn in the clinic. “They’ll watch me put in a catheter, they’ll put in a catheter, and then I try to take the backseat and let one student teach another,” she says. “I’m right there to help them along, but I like to do that because that’s how you learn.”
Since joining the Hospital for Large Animals, Hatch has gone through training to become a certified veterinary technician (CVT) and to be certified by the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (AAEVT), Fear Free (Level 3), and the Reassessment Campaign on Veterinary Resuscitation (RECOVER) initiative in both basic and advanced life support—all feats she is proud of. “I went to school full-time and worked full-time. I don't know how I did that!” she says with a laugh.
Working with emergencies, Hatch sees a lot of unique patients. But, every so often there is a case that she truly can’t forget. One, in particular, was a horse owned by a family she knew. “I remember hearing the horse’s name and my heart sank,” she says. “He was honestly one of the sickest and sweetest horses that I have had here, was such a champ through it all, and had a family that never gave up on him.”
After weeks of treatment and nursing care, the horse was able to go home to rehab and eventually carry on with his big equitation career. Still, don’t expect Hatch to realize how much of an impact she has on patients and clients. “I’m just doing my job,” she says.