Battle Ground, Ind.
“I love working with animals and I love working with people,” said Sara Sharp, a certified veterinary technician in Denver, Colo. It is that love that helped Sara overcome a significant disability and achieve her goal of being a contributing member of the veterinary medical profession.
Sara was born with Stargardt’s form of macular degeneration, a bilateral deformity of the optic nerve, which makes objects appear out of focus and rendered her legally blind. “I’ve been interested in animals since I was very young,” Sara said. “I was involved in 4-H and really wanted to be a veterinarian, but I knew that would not be possible.” With a laugh she adds, “Surgery was out. You can’t do surgery by touch.” Determined to be in veterinary medicine, she set her sights on becoming a technician. Sara enlisted the help of fellow students at the Columbus Technical Institute in Ohio to help her take notes and perfect the skills necessary to become a proficient veterinary technician in spite of her disability. She persevered and graduated with her degree in 1982.
For the past 15 years, Sara has been employed at the clinic of Edward Eisner, DVM, Diplomate AVDC, in Denver. “Sara’s disability is to the extent that in everyday conversations, everyone is out of focus, even at three feet,” Dr. Eisner explained. “However, she skillfully performs venipuncture with tactile expertise rather than by sight and is skilled at client relations and other technical procedures within the hospital.” Dr. Eisner adds another important way that Sara contributes to the practice, “Her enthusiasm is uplifting,” he said.
Sara’s disability has not limited her role as a veterinary technician. She routinely performs dental prophylaxis, takes x-rays, assists Dr. Eisner with dental procedures, performs anesthesia, provides nursing care for hospitalized patients, and takes an active role in client education. “I do most of my work by touch,” Sara said. “I enjoy the challenges that face me and try to meet them head on.”
Her love of animals extends outside the clinic as well. “I have two dogs, two cats, a rabbit and many, many fish,” she said, “and a husband and a daughter.”
Sara’s profession continues to inspire her. “Recently, a kitten was brought in,” she recounted. “It was hypoglycemic with a 96 degree temperature. I warmed it and gave it fluids. A few minutes later, that little cat jumped off the table, ran around the room and is living happily ever after.” With her trademark enthusiasm, Sara added, “I just love that kind of story!”
Because of her skill level and desire to help others, Sara also lectures at continuation education conferences nationally. Her commitment to the profession and to the animals that she treats serves as an inspiration to other professionals. “I know my limitations,” she states. “When my eyesight becomes a hindrance to my work, then I will retire with a happy heart and know that I have helped make a difference in the world of veterinary medicine.”
With members across the country, the North American Veterinary Technician Association was organized to represent and promote the profession of veterinary technology. NAVTA provides direction, education, support and coordination for its members and works with allied professional organizations for the competent care and humane treatment of animals. The association’s headquarters are in Battle Ground, Ind.