Welcome to the Pick the Brain interview series! In these interviews, we talk with some of the (many) incredible people who make Instinct possible—from our talented team members to the passionate professionals using Instinct software in their hospitals.
It’s one of our favorite weeks of the year: National Veterinary Technician Week! In keeping with the spirit of the event, we sat down to chat with Eric Roberts, who worked as a veterinary technician for nearly 11 years before joining Instinct, where he’s now our director of hospital support.
Eric is an integral player on our team, and he works tirelessly to support Instinct hospitals from day one of their go-live—and always with a smile.
We sat down with Eric to ask him about his path through veterinary medicine and find out how he came to join Instinct. Let’s dive in!
Tell us a little bit about your veterinary and professional background.
I started working in veterinary hospitals as an assistant in 2006, became a licensed veterinary technician in 2008, and graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration from SUNY Delhi in 2009.
After working in small animal private practices in New York for about 6 years, I moved to Prince Edward Island, Canada, and worked as a technician at the Atlantic Veterinary College.
I was later contacted by Timeless Veterinary Systems (also based in Prince Edward Island), and I became their sales and marketing coordinator in 2013 while continuing to work on-call hours at the Atlantic Veterinary College. In 2019, I left Timeless Veterinary Systems and began working at Instinct as a customer support manager. 🙂
Where do you live?
I currently live in Wynantskill, NY, which is about 25 minutes outside of Albany, NY. Wynantskill is fairly small, but if you happen to be driving through, be sure to stop at Jack’s Drive-In and get a cheeseburger (or two). Order “1 cheese with” to get a cheeseburger with grilled onions, ketchup, cheese, and a buttered bun. They’re around $2 each, and you will not be disappointed.
Where would you live if you could relocate to anywhere in the world?
Wanderlust is real for me, so this question is tough. I visited Turks and Caicos a while back and it was incredible. I could definitely see myself living there (maybe selling seashells by the seashore). I also love San Diego and would probably live there—with an RV so I could continue traveling!
What was your dream job as a child?
I wanted to play second base for the New York Yankees. My dad is a big fan, and I always loved watching the games with him as a kid. I played second base in little league (and my dad was the coach) but once I got older, I switched gears and learned how to play the guitar. Still waiting for my big break!
How did you first learn about and connect with Instinct?
I met Dr. Caleb Frankel after VMD Technology (a blog Caleb ran before he started this one) published a positive review of a drug formulary created by Timeless Veterinary Systems. We chatted on the phone about his review and ended up meeting each other at NAVC (now VMX) in 2014.
We stayed in touch, and in 2019, I stopped by the Instinct booth at the ACVIM conference, and he showed me Instinct. I loved what I saw so much that I emailed him a week later and asked if he was hiring. The rest is history!
What is your favorite feature currently live in Instinct Treatment Plan (ITP) or EMR?
The Plumb’s Veterinary Drugs integration. It is such a valuable tool in general, and to have it integrated with ITP and EMR is a huge win for everyone.
No more searching for the book, flipping through pages, or finding your phone and bringing up the app. It’s all in Instinct!
What future Instinct feature are you most excited about?
Anesthesia Mode! I remember monitoring patients under anesthesia using a pen and paper and wondering why this process hadn’t been designed in a digital format. Instinct’s Anesthesia Mode looks amazing and includes all the bells and whistles that current Instinct hospitals are familiar with—plus more, including helpful communication tools, easy access to view remotely, and patient safety features. It’s going to have a big impact on how anesthesia sheets are recorded in the future, and I can’t wait for hospitals to start using it!
What is your favorite Instinct swag?
The softest t-shirt I’ll ever own.
What is your favorite veterinary software or app (other than Instinct)?
I recently had a free trial of Talkatoo dictation to investigate how it might work in Instinct. It seems like a great way for veterinarians to quickly dictate notes in medical records. They’ve also included a veterinary-specific dictionary that recognizes veterinary terminology for enhanced accuracy.
How about non-veterinary software or app?
Duolingo! It’s a great app that helps you learn (or relearn) another language. The idea is to use it for a few minutes each day, and over time, the lessons become more advanced. I like it because the earlier courses are still referenced as you progress, so it’s easier to remember the basics as lessons get more difficult. Some lessons have you type words/phrases, select them from a list, or even speak, allowing you to practice pronunciation and put words into phrases. I started brushing up on my Spanish recently, and I’m surprised at how much is coming back since high school.
What’s one piece of pop culture from the last year that we should check out?
Camp Trash - Downtiming. This 4-song album reminds me of driving with friends in the early 2000s while trying to get through high school and all the drama that came with it. I’d categorize them as indie/emo/rock like The Get Up Kids and Something Corporate. They’re a fairly new band (and known as the “The Internet’s Most Mysterious Band”) but you can find them on Spotify!
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love cooking, playing guitar and writing/recording music, spending time on the beach, and traveling. I also recently started playing disc golf with friends!
Where can we find you online?
You can connect with me on LinkedIn (if you’re into that sort of thing).
What is a common myth about your job or field of expertise?
That everyone in the veterinary industry is in it for the money, which is entirely untrue. I still remember my first day of technician school (Intro to Vet Sci) where the professor told us the average wage for a technician and said we should rethink our career path if we weren’t satisfied with that amount. Everyone in this industry knows we don’t do it for the money. We do it because we love animals, and we feel rewarded when helping them.
What is your favorite animal?
I have a soft spot for orange cats because I was fortunate to have an extremely smart and caring orange cat when I was a kid and whenever I would cry he would comfort me.
What is the coolest animal you’ve ever interacted with personally?
Canadian Lynx! I got to work with one when I was a technician—a local zoo brought it into our hospital for a dental cleaning.
Tell us about your pets!
Cindy Pawford is a beautiful, 7-year-old tabby cat who is very food-motivated. She loves snuggling in between your arms while you’re laying down and will paw at your face in the morning when it’s time to wake up for breakfast (no need to set an alarm with her around, which is both good and bad). She’s recently started spending more time outside and is becoming quite the hunter. Although she never injures the rodents she catches, she is very proud of her accomplishment and is happy to show me her catch through the sliding glass door. She does let them go once I give her some treats.
If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about veterinary medicine, what would it be?
I would love to see industry-wide adoption of pet insurance, which would (ideally) help provide all veterinary staff members with a competitive, livable wage.
How would your parents describe what you do for a living?
I work from home in my pajamas, manage a support team to help our customers who are veterinary hospitals, and occasionally travel to clinics to help train staff and pet animals.
We’re incredibly thankful for all our veterinary technicians here at Instinct, and Eric is no exception. He is an integral part of our team, bringing a positive attitude and inquisitive spirit to the daily adventures involved in supporting our amazing Instinct hospitals.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to follow along for more installments of our interview series in the coming months.