Posted by: fireweaver | February 1, 2008

job security

someone once told me that job security could be defined as doing the same thing over and over, and having them pay you for it again tomorrow.

the biggest professional organization for lab-animal-land is AALAS, the american association for lab animal science. in addition to managing the contact network (big national and smaller local meetings, vendor list, 3 different professional listserves) , one of their big functions is to quantify the skill sets of various types of people in the industry through courses and certifying exams. a tech that holds a certificate in one of the 3 different levels (ALAT, LAT, LATG) is a far more employable person – most places give you raises when you pass your tests, and the higher levels are arguably worth as much as a bachelor’s degree for a lot of positions. our company is pretty cool about it: our guys do indeed get raises for each level (though i think those raises could be bigger), and the company pays for study materials and the test itself. some people do just fine reading the manual and studying on their own, but those people are usually the ones who already have BS degrees. guys that didn’t have the time/money/inclination to go to college, though, they don’t necessarily know how to study, and often need some help to successfully get through it. this is where i come in. i’ve been teaching the occasional AALAS cert class, a chapter here or there, since my externships in vet school. i think teaching is really important, since certifications encourage the quality people to stay in the field (i.e., it becomes a career instead of just some job). and really, i like teaching, it’s a lot like telling science-y stories to an audience. but i’ve never done the whole course on my own before, just given some lectures as part of the whole. apparently, the last time our company offered cert classes to our employees was over a year before i even started there, so it’s been a good 2.5 between then and now. and, lo, i started in october or so teaching an ALAT and a LAT session once a week in 2 different buildings. that’s 4 classes a week, and the only time i wasn’t the one lecturing is when i went off to oregon on short notice.  12 classes is about the shortest i can get it all in, so that means a 3 month commitment from whoever wants to take them (longer for this round, since i managed to schedule classes to span many different holiday weeks).  it’s an hour per week for the people taking the class, which isn’t too big a deal, and classes were well-attended in general.  but for the one teaching, hell, not only was i doing the 4 hours a week teaching, but another 1.5 driving back & forth between buildings, and 4-6ish to write the damn lectures (as in, another day and a half worth of stuff every work week…the times where i had to write lectures at home after work particularly sucked).  this week was my last round of classes, and for the love of freedom/wine/deity of your choice, i am beyond burnt out.  no way in hell am i doing this again for another year or so.  i reeeeeeely hope most of my kiddos pass.

and because we certainly don’t have any monopoly on making things more involved than they need to be, Chris’ job is über-wacky this week.  they’re busy changing over the theater from coke to pepsi (while so far we’re at 100% of the people polled saying they like coke better, we don’t get to make these decisions, and i only really care about the slushie flavors anyway), and man is this far more complicated than one would believe.  they had to do a lot more stuff than merely change out the boxes of soda syrup…so much, in fact, that poor had to stay at the damn place overnight last night to let “the conversion team” get everything done.  wow.  so of course, he’s closing again tonight.

but hey, i suppose all it means is that we’re all important people at work.



  1. I’m sure your kiddos appreciate all your time. I’ve been tutoring some of my techs after work in their HCC math classes. They always come in all smiles after they’ve done well and that makes it worth it. Hopefully, yours will be the same.

  2. i precert new nurses, most of the time right out of school, not even liscenced yet. and ewvery time anew one starts, i wonder why i do it. they are so full of awe, and they are so inocent in the ways of the nursing world and they are so idelaistic. but i start all over again, and after awhile, i get into it all over again. what it does for me, is keep me young, it keeps me hopeful that the newbees will end up better than most of the burnt out oldies, and that they will keep a sense of humor about them. but the reward for me is when they keep coming back to me for answers. they trust me and what i say. they come back to me a year or two later when something terrible happens and they tell me they survived because of something i said to them. in short, they validate me. so when you get tired of teaching, and you dont think you can lecture anymore, just remember, you probably made a difference to somebody. hopefully that somebody will validate you. i hope so. it’s such a huge payoff.

  3. susan, that’s pretty much it exactly. most of my caretakers & techs DO trust me, and yes just like yours, lots of them prefer to ask ME all their burning questions. and yeah, i do like that.

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