Practice Makes Perfect

Q&A with Kelley Simulation Laboratory Manager Mike Santasieri
A man and woman dressed in winter outside in cold weather
Mike Santasieri and fiancé Ashley Pope, a CVT in oncology at Foster Hospital for Small Animals, volunteered on the veterinary team at the Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races, held in March in Fort Kent, Maine. Photo: Mike Santasieri

Mike Santasieri, BS, CVT, LVT, FFCP
Kelley Simulation Laboratory Manager
Joseph Kelley, D.V.M. Simulation Laboratory
Department of Comparative Pathobiology

What is your job and what is your favorite part of it?
I wear a lot of “hats” in my current role, which I think is my favorite part of my job. I get bored easily and love learning new skills, so my current role has been a fantastic fit since I get to do something different every day.

I’m responsible for the overall management of the Joseph Kelley, D.V.M. Simulation Laboratory which includes scheduling, ordering and inventory, model construction and maintenance, and more. I also coordinate the supplies, set-up, and breakdown of all Clinical Skills I & II labs, and facilitate or assist with instruction during many of them. Currently, I’m the only Certified RECOVER BLS & ALS Instructor on campus, so I teach all of those certification workshops. I also assist with the creation of learning resources for our Learning Library (a number of task trainers with associated multimedia modules that students can access 24 hours a day for self-directed practice), provide simulator/model and video support for the Nero’s Law initiative, am actively participating in a few research studies and collaborations with other academic institutions, and recently presented an abstract at a veterinary simulation conference.

I’ll soon be traveling to Cornell University to observe Cardiopulmonary Bootcamp, which is a simulation-based multi-day symposium for third-year emergency and critical care residents, and will be helping run some of the simulations. I’m hoping to gain some knowledge and experience that will enable me to collaborate with our faculty to create a similar event for a different discipline.

What makes Cummings School such a special place to work and how long have you worked here?
I love the resources we have as a Tufts University school, but the small community feel that comes from our own small campus. It really is the best of both worlds. The people here are incredibly smart, driven, and always willing to share their knowledge, which allows me to keep learning every day. This variety has kept me engaged and inspired since my first day on campus.

I’ve been in the veterinary field for around 15 years and at Cummings School for almost eight years. I started as a third-shift emergency and critical care veterinary technician in our Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals, then transitioned to second and eventually first shift. I worked for a few years in a split position, rotating between the hemodialysis service and emergency and critical care service. 

My career changed a bit when I transitioned to a newly developed administrative role as hospital technician development coordinator, where I was responsible for creating and implementing our onboarding, training, and continuing education programs for our clinical support staff in collaboration with the service supervisors, as well as providing one-on-one training and mentoring to newer support staff. This really sparked a pivot to an academic pathway for my career instead of a clinical one that eventually led me to apply for the Kelley Simulation Laboratory Manager position.

What brings you the most joy?
It sounds very cliché, but I genuinely find joy in seeing students learn a new skill or competency and watching the look of confusion on their face transition to one of understanding. There’s nothing better than helping someone get to that “aha!” moment and watching them succeed at something that recently seemed so insurmountable. Their enthusiasm keeps me enthusiastic too. It’s infectious.