AVECCTN Specialty Technician of the Year

Cummings School’s Carolyn Tai earns 2023 award from the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians and Nurses
a smiling individual with long black hair wearing glasses and blue hospital scrubs
Carolyn Tai, 2023 AVECCTN Specialty Technician of the Year, runs Foster Hospital’s dialysis center. Photo: Jeff Poole, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Carolyn Tai, CVT, VTS (ECC) (SAIM) (she/her), a highly skilled veterinary technician at Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals, was named the 2023 Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians and Nurses (AVECCTN) Specialty Technician of the Year. She received the award at the International Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Symposium in September.

Established in 2013 by the AVECCTN and Nurses Board of Directors, the award recognizes an AVECCTN member who has contributed to the advancement of veterinary medicine, demonstrated extraordinary leadership, or impacted the field of veterinary technology through exceptional teaching and involvement. 

Tai has more than 25 years of veterinary experience, including 13 years at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, where she oversees the extracorporeal therapy service at Foster Hospital for Small Animals. She was quite surprised and honored to learn of the award. “It is so humbling to receive this recognition and validation for my work,” she said. “I know there are highly advanced professionals in this field that I think very highly of that make these decisions and it’s nice to know that they think I am deserving of this.”

Providing service at one of only a dozen veterinary dialysis centers operating in the United States, Tai consistently seeks and expands her professional knowledge in the field, earning Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) certification in both Emergency and Critical Care in 2013, followed by Internal Medicine in 2021. She is currently enrolled in the online dialysis academy course.

In nomination of Tai, Dr. Mary Labato, V83 (she/her), director of renal and endourology services, shared

Carolyn is the best dialysis tech that I have ever worked with.
Dr. Mary Labato

A Cummings School veterinary internist for more than three decades, Labato is associate chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences and holds the Anne Engen and Belle Term Professorship in Clinical Nephrology.

Cummings School started its dialysis program in 2000 and its veterinary dialysis center is among just a few to offer all five dialysis modalities. In the fall of 2022, the center celebrated its 400th extracorporeal treatment.

“Carolyn has completely modernized our data collection process, maintains all the equipment, and has been on call 24/7 for the last 24 months,” Labato shared. “She is a vital instructor in teaching the house officers standard operating procedures and technical skills for dialysis, she masters new equipment easily, and participates in a number of ongoing clinical studies in dialysis.”

Characterized by Labato as exemplary in her patient care and an excellent teacher and speaker, Tai has also made presentations at local, regional, and national meetings. 

Cindy Borjes, CVT (she/her), specialty services technician supervisor, has served as Carolyn’s supervisor for seven years. In addition to listing Tai’s many credentials and accomplishments, in her recommendation of Tai for the award, Borjes noted, “she encourages and mentors other technicians to speak and complete case reports, and to get involved in innumerable continuing education opportunities. She consistently receives positive feedback from student surveys … based on her teaching technique, vast knowledge, and unmatchable skills.”

With her diverse skill-set and admirable work ethic, Tai has become an invaluable member of the hospital team. Borjes explained, “Carolyn continuously assists in other departments as needed, including oncology, anesthesia, special procedures, the ER, ICU, and the pharmacy.”

The most telling value of Tai’s work is revealed by the appreciative owners of the many pets she has saved, such as Pumba, a 10-month old husky who accidentally ate a bottle of 200mg Ibuprofen pills and needed a hemoperfusion treatment. “He hasn’t missed a beat since that incident,” said Pumba’s owner, Ryan Steeves-Kilgallon. “I’m so thankful for the care I received so that Pumba is still with me.”