Get To Know Us – With Debra Michal, LVT


Debra checkin’ out an ear cytology! This is how we diagnose ear infections.

The “Get To Know Us” series strikes again, this time with the always wonderful Debra Michal.

Debra is essentially the technician “mom” of our staff, and ironically enough, she is a mom herself! But wait, theres more… she’s a FUN mom! That’s right, break out the full-fat Ritz crackers and Jiffy peanut butter, you heard it here first! (Okay, I cringed listing those stereotypes.)

Those who know her know that she is calm, cool and collected even in the face of sudden emergencies and overwhelming workload. She takes the time to teach, even when she is busy, and always accommodates my 80’s music pandora choices. So what exactly goes into becoming a calm, cool, collected rockstar mother technician woman? Thankfully Debra allowed me to shadow her, convince her to take pictures, and answer some questions, all for the sake of elucidating the cloudy realm of “What It Takes To Be This Awesome.” (Wow, I’m laying these high-pressure adjectives on hard! But do I regret it? No.)

IMPORTANT ADVICE: Make sure to read the entire story for a juicy little tale at the end, regarding my first time meeting Debra!

ONE LAST THING: My comments are written in italics and parenthesized, because I need some attention too! Hello? Are you looking at me?


Lauren: How did you initially get into veterinary medicine?

Debra: Veterinary medicine wasn’t something I thought I’d get into growing up. I loved reading and writing and studied English in college. I got a job at a large publishing house (we get it, you’re smart!!!) and didn’t find the same enjoyment watching books get made as I did writing them myself. So after a year I got a job at an advertising agency writing ads for books. It was more creative but I still didn’t feel fulfilled. I had to make a change but wasn’t sure what to do. I always loved animals growing up, but besides becoming a veterinarian, I didn’t know how that love could translate into a career. (Many people have this confusion! There are a ton of careers for the animal lovers out there.)

I applied for a job as a receptionist at an animal hospital in NYC (our receptionists are the best of the best!). I didn’t have any experience, but they took a chance on me (we are forever in their debt! Kiss those peace signs and throw them to the sky, peeps!) and I was able to watch how an animal hospital works. I asked to watch a surgery, a spay, to see if I thought being a doctor was for me. Instead of watching the doctor, I was fascinated with watching the Licensed Vet Tech instead – performing anesthesia, passing instruments and suture material, and anticipating what the doctor needed before they even asked. I thought, I could do that! (and by Jove, she was right.)

I applied to the Vet Tech program at LaGuardia Community College and never looked back.

L: What aspects of your last career do you bring with you into vet med?

D: In advertising especially, it was always important to provide the client with options – different tag lines, different layouts, different ways of getting the book’s message across. The same goes for our clients at Heart of Chelsea – it’s a cooperative approach to animal medicine. We can provide medical tests and diagnoses based on our expertise, but the client knows their pet best, and what will work best for them. (We trust you and you trust us, thats how it works.)

L: What is something clients and employees can always count on you for?

D: Clients can always count on me to be as transparent as possible about their pet’s care. I will answer questions with as much detail and information as clients would like. Employees can always count on me to keep learning and in turn helping the next generation of vet techs. (I can personally attest to this!) I love watching new nurses gain more confidence, knowledge, and skills. It is very rewarding.

L: Tell me something WEIRD.

D: I was the Drum Major of my high school marching band. We wore kilts and played bagpipes. (Okay, I have SEEN the video of this and can confirm it exists in all it’s glory. That being said, anyone who has been to Scotland knows how COOL kilts are. Not weird. Ugh please.)

L: Favorite genre of book/film etc?

D: ANYTHING from the 80s. Also my favorite music. Best decade by far.


Thanks to Debra for taking the time to answer these questions. Now, to send you off, a little bedtime story:

When I first met Debra, I was on the 1 train heading down to Chelsea for my interview. I had spent the prior day reading all about the hospital and becoming familiar with the Staff page. I was about an hour early because I had yet to learn how *almost completely* reliable the 1 train is (you have let me down, and I will not forget it.) I sat down on the train, looked up and across from me, and saw a young woman sitting in scrubs with her headphones in. Thanks to my creepy staff-page-studying from the day before, I was able to recognize that this woman was in fact Debra! “Debra?… Debra?” I said, seeing that at first she didn’t hear me. Eventually, she looked up and I had to explain that I recognized her from the staff page and I was the girl she had been emailing with about my interview later that day. She was very kind and walked me to the hospital, despite my UTTER CREEPINESS.

Hope you enjoyed getting to know us! Stay tuned for our next post in two weeks time!

written by Lauren Gamiel, Veterinary Assistant

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