As a veterinary technician at Foster Hospital for Small Animals, Michael Santasieri, BS, CVT, always enjoyed teaching, helping other technicians discover their own skills and talents, and develop as professionals. So, when he saw a new position created for a Hospital Technician Development Coordinator, he knew he had to apply.
“We created this position to standardize our onboarding and training process, to provide additional continuing education and development for our existing technicians, and oversee and implement an externship program,” he says. “The appeal of teaching and supporting my fellow technicians really drew me to the position.”
Santasieri grew up with a love for animals and wanted to find a way to help them on both a personal and professional level. He began working as a dog trainer in 2003 and had been in inpatient care roles since 2006 before joining Cummings Veterinary Medical Center in 2015, working as an Emergency and Critical Care technician (ECC) on the third shift. Santasieri then worked his way up to first shift before further expanding his skills, splitting his time between ECC and the hemodialysis unit. “A really big part of my personal identity revolved around my work as a technician,” he says. “Since starting the Hospital Technician Development Coordinator position, it has shifted a lot—I still care about animals, but I also really care about people and I want to make a difference and to help boost others up.”
His priority since starting the position has been creating ways to set technicians up for success. “I want to make sure that our technicians have the resources and the training that they need to do a really good job taking care of our patients,” he says. “And I think that that translates also into job satisfaction as well.”
Because Santasieri himself was a veterinary technician at Foster Hospital for Small Animals, he believes he is better able to understand the needs of and relate to the other technicians. “I try to always remember where I came from and how I developed as a technician, and I try to pass that on,” he says. “One of the great things about medicine is that it is constantly changing, so we’re always learning. And I think having somebody who understands that is really important.”
Along with his personal experience as a technician, Santasieri enjoys putting other skills he’s learned throughout his life to use in his new role. “When I was in high school, I used to do web design, and then when I was in college, I did a lot of video editing, which have helped me provide higher quality education and asynchronous learning opportunities,” he explains. “We’re open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so it’s impossible to have everyone at one seminar and we want to make sure we’re not leaving anybody behind.”
While he is excited about the influence his new role will have on others, it has not been without its challenges. Santasieri started the position in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made many of the hands-on portions of his job impossible. He is not letting that get in the way of progress, however, as Santasieri is focusing on the infrastructure of the technician training program in the meantime. “When we can run labs and have experiences in the future, the groundwork will already be done,” he says.
Less than a year into his role as Hospital Technician Development Coordinator, the job has already made an impact on Santasieri, as well. “As I’ve moved into this position, I’ve been empowered to advocate a lot for technicians and not necessarily just technicians at Cummings School, but technicians in general,” he says. “And that’s something that I’m very proud of. They’re really the unsung heroes of veterinary medicine.”