07 Dec 2021 PVMA Awards
PVMA is honored to recognize three individuals that have gone above and beyond for the veterinary profession and the people in it. We are proud to announce the following 2021 PVMA Awards recipients:
Veterinary Team Member of the Year:
Wilsonville Veterinary Clinic
Nominated by Dr. Cheryl Lopate: I would like nominate our practice manager, Morgan Castaneda, as the veterinary team member of the year. Morgan initially joined our practice in 2006 when it was still owned by Ray Calkins, and worked as an assistant and customer care team member for 2 years. She left us to start her family just prior to the birth of her first child. After being a stay at home mother for a year, she returned to our customer care team, where she worked part time until the birth or her daughter couple years later. After the birth of her second child, she took another leave of absence to again care for her growing family. She returned to work for us for a short time before taking a job at another clinic that was closer to her home, so she could be a bigger part of her children’s education, volunteering in many different support roles for the classroom and for after-school events. Morgan was always an outgoing, empathic, engaging employee, whose love for our patients and their owners was always evident. She always went above and beyond to help clients and to comfort them when they were grieving.
Then in 2018, I was fortunate enough to pass by Morgan while we were both shopping at Fred Meyer’s, at a time when our clinic was looking for a new practice manager. We spoke briefly to catch up and and then said our goodbye’s and as I was walking away it dawned on me that Morgan might make a great practice manager. So I turned around and walked back and offered her the position. I think she thought I was joking at first but then realized I was serious. She wasn’t sure, so told me she’d think about it and call me back. It meant not being able to participate in her kids school events quite as much, but she saw it as a great opportunity to not only further her career and support her family as a single parent, but also to be able to take an active role in helping patients and clients as well as challenging herself in a new position in a veterinary clinic. She called me back a few days later and accepted the position. It has been a great decision for both me personally, our practice, for Morgan and her family and for our clients and patients.
Morgan is a natural as a practice manager. She is a good listener, she is empathetic, and she genuinely wants to help people wherever and whenever she can. She had a keen sense for finding the strengths and weaknesses in people and then encouraging growth in their areas of strength while finding ways to bolster them in areas of weakness. She is a true team leader. She is not prone to bias but treats all employees equitably. She is a strong advocate for our employees and looks out for their welfare and well-being, coming to upper management whenever needed to invoke changes that ensure that our employees remain happy with their positions. She does her best to accommodate the needs of our employees without sacrificing the clinic’s needs and demands. She is upbeat and uplifting, always trying to keep the attitude positive in the clinic even in the toughest of times. She is always willing to help fill in wherever she is needed at the clinic when we are short staffed – even on her days off. She is dedicated to ensuring the staff is secure and happy, that our practice is profitable, and that our clients and patients can get quality care despite the insanity that COVID has brought us.
Morgan has had a steep learning curve in this position. Prior to this job, she had never been in a leadership position. She did however, jump into the deep end of the pool with both feet. Shed has done an explemplary job of learning both by reading and taking CE and also by trial and error, always learning quickly from her mistakes, and growing as a leader, from them. She is constantly exploring new areas and topics, taking CE and learning all the intricacies of all the different areas in our practice. She can fill in anyplace in the clinic and often does as staffing changes. She has completely immersed herself in the position of team leader and she excels at it.
She has been working hard to build the kind of culture that we want to have in the clinic. She has an amazing sense about people when we interview new candidates for open positions. She can find people that not only will fit in easily with the rest of the staff, but also those that will continue to build and expand the culture of caring, empathy, respect and teamwork to create a group of people who really want to help each other, our clients and most importantly our patients. Our work team has never been stronger and more bonded to each other than it is right now. Morgan is great dealing with difficult clients, clients with grievances, or clients that are anxious about their pets and may turn that anxiety against the customer care team if they are not getting exactly what they want. Morgan is great communicator but even more importantly a great listener. She allows people to say what they need to say, she repeats it so they know she heard them and then she does everything in her power to help them. She can explain things calmly and clearly once the client has had a chance to fully air their concerns and knows they were heard. This is a very difficult skill to learn and for that reason when it is innate, it is priceless.
Morgan has lead our team through the pandemic, rolling with changes that happen minute by minute; and then turning on a dime and doing exactly the opposite of what we were doing yesterday. She has supported the staff through all the stress everyone has been under with increased caseloads and new patients, staff turnover (which while this has been hard on the team, the new team is so much better for it because of Morgan’s hiring skills), COVID sick time whenever anyone had symptoms or known exposure, curbside care, and all the new COVID policies. And with all this hard work, she is very good at maintaining her work-life balance and is always encouraging the staff to do the same. She spends every weekend with her kids and parents, camping, relaxing, zip-lining, or hiking. She even trained for and ran in Hood to Coast for the first time this year and her team came in 11th in their grouping! She still volunteers for lots of her kids school events and is active with her church.
I feel so grateful to have Morgan leading our team and am so proud to watch her grow in skills and confidence over the last few years. I look forward to many more years with her as our practice manager. I would love to be able to celebrate Veterinary Team Member of the Year with her as well!
Outstanding Service Award:
Dr. Patti Smith
Nominated by Dr. Molly Williams: Dr. Smith exemplifies all the best of our profession. An active veterinarian for many years (over 20 years) she has dedicated her life to the protection of animals. Dr. Smith has been an active part of Northwest Animal Companions (NWAC), a rescue group that rehomes and fosters animals. NWAC will also save adoptable animals from euthanasia and cover the costs of their treatments before being placed in adoptive homes. Dr. Smith participates in consultation and treatment of NWAC patients but also she keeps many of them at her own house for treatments until they’re ready for their next step towards adoption. Dr. Smith will use her free time to provide for spays and neuters, teach foster clients how to care for kittens or other sick pets, transport animals, and coordinate care with other providers.
Dr. Smith is also a wonderful person. Personally, I know Dr. Smith to be a kind and supportive ear for many people. I have found Dr. Smith to be a great teacher to staff, and a natural leader. Dr. Smith is just what our profession needs right now, an advocate for animals and the profession and affiliates that serve them.
Patti Smith, DVM is a volunteer with Northwest Animal Companions and has medically and financially supported our non-profit, all-volunteer rescue for several years. She is particularly willing to take a chance on animals that need medical services; frequently rushing to a vet ER or asking a volunteer to pickup a cat with urinary blockage or a dog with a degloved leg (two recent examples). Many times Patti arranges for a vet tech, or vet, to provide the foster home for these fragile animals and checks in with them frequently.
Veterinarian of the Year Award:
Dr. Scott Lozier
Nominated by Dr. Steve Kochis: Dr. Lozier is strongly deserving of this nomination and is a stalwart of the Portland veterinary community. In addition to his orthopedic expertise, Dr. Lozier has played a vital role in the training of new veterinarians. Over the years, he has instructed countless veterinary externs, interns, and emergency doctors. He’s generous with his knowledge and his time. He frequently stays late, beyond the end of an already-busy day, to perform emergency surgeries or consult on cases. For as long as I can remember Scott has worked Saturdays. One of the few surgeons to be available regularly on weekends. Dr. Lozier typically came into the clinic on Sundays to check on his patients. Those quick check ins often turned into several hours of Scott helping other services with their cases, changing bandages, addressing wounds, and evaluating limping critters. Many of us have learned our bandaging, casting, and splinting skills from his tutelage.
Dr. Lozier is personable and interested, always making time to chat with a staff member or to pet their dog. He goes above and beyond to treat employee pets, stray kittens, and rescue cases with kindness and compassion. He brings his heart and intellect to every case he encounters. He’s detail-oriented, thorough, and highly devoted to his clients. He’s a true professional, and we all have learned so much from him. Many of his clients have his personal cell so that if there is a problem with one of his patients, he can almost always be reached.
There was a time when Portland didn’t have as many specialists or surgeons in the metro area and Emergency clinics had to rely on the generosity of peers like Scott who was one of only a few surgeons who was always willing to take phone calls at all hours and come into facilities like Dove Lewis to cut or do consults. Scott also took on some of the most challenging cases and sought solutions for owners and their pets that others couldn’t offer. Many of our past and present members of the PVMA Board have worked side by side with Dr. Lozier at Northwest Veterinary Specialists over the years. His clients get the most detailed discussions about their pet’s surgical interventions and outcomes and his patient’s get the best chance at a full recovery from their injuries.