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In It for the Long Haul
Donna Bloniasz was a veterinary technician at the small-animal hospital when its doors opened 35 years ago—and remains a valuable part of the team to this day.
October 10, 2020
Donna Bloniasz takes a patient’s blood pressure at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals. “There are so many wonderful things that we do, but what the animals give back to us is for me very rewarding,” says Bloniasz, a veterinary technician II. Photo: Alonso Nichols/Tufts University

When Tufts first opened its small-animal hospital in October 1985, Donna Bloniasz worked in its intensive care unit on the emergency and critical care team. Thirty-five years later—with a couple of breaks along the way—Bloniasz is still working with patients at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals.

Bloniasz poses with Buddy, a Rottweiler-German shepherd she adopted as a puppy and a certificate recognizing the completion of his obedience training.

Bloniasz poses with Buddy, a Rottweiler-German shepherd she adopted as a puppy and a certificate recognizing the completion of his obedience training. “He was with us for 12 years and grew to be 114 pounds. He brought so many happy memories to our family.” Photo: Courtesy of Donna Bloniasz

For the last 12 years, Bloniasz has worked as veterinary technician II in the small-animal wards, which is where all the animals that do not require intensive care stay during hospitalization.

“I left the fast-paced ECC life to the younger ones,” she says with a laugh. “I just like being with animals and treating long-term critical patients.”

Bloniasz always loved animals but had not planned on becoming a veterinary technician when she was young. However, in high school, she took a number of biology and other medical-based classes, which she found intriguing. She followed that passion for medicine and enrolled in an associate’s degree program in veterinary technology at Holliston Jr. College (now Newbury College).

“It just seemed like the perfect fit for me,” she says. “I enjoy nursing and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new.”

After graduating from college, Bloniasz spent five years working in private veterinary practice before accepting her first position at the Foster Hospital, in the ICU. Though she took a two-year hiatus to move to North Carolina and a 10-year hiatus to raise her young kids, Bloniasz always returned to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

“I love it here and just couldn’t see myself working anywhere else,” she says.

Donna Bloniasz taking care of a dogs leg in small animal wards

“It feels like every day is a teaching moment. As technicians, even among ourselves, we teach each other things, says Bloniasz. Photo: Courtesy of Donna Bloniasz

Now a technician in the Foster Hospital’s small-animal wards, Bloniasz performs all the tasks for pets that a nurse would do for human patients. She and her fellow technicians serve as the veterinarians’ eyes and ears in the small-animal wards, monitoring all the inpatient cases. In addition to her patient responsibilities, Bloniasz also acts as a lead on the floor, assisting the technician supervisors.

Like so many others, Bloniasz and her job were affected when COVID-19 hit early this year. To protect an immune-suppressed family member, she worked for eight weeks outside the hospital through the early days of the pandemic, triaging patients remotely for the emergency room via her computer and phone.

In May, Bloniasz returned to working inside the Foster Hospital. She loves being back to making the animals comfortable and the feeling that caring for them brings with it. “There are so many wonderful things that we do, but what the animals give back to us is for me very rewarding.”

While Bloniasz loves to care for the animals, she is thrilled that Cummings School also allows her to simultaneously teach the students and new technicians every day.

“I like showing people my little tricks and my knowledge that I’ve learned through the years,” Bloniasz says. “It feels like every day is a teaching moment. As technicians, even among ourselves, we teach each other things.”