Meet the Veterinary Teaching Hospital team: Thea Leigh Lara

Thea Leigh Lara is a nationally certified pharmacy technician at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. She and our pharmacy team work closely with our veterinarians and staff to provide safe and effective drug therapy to our animal patients.

Originally from Milton-Freewater, Oregon, Thea joined our team more than five years ago. After moving to Pullman in 2008, she earned a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Washington State University.

Outside of work, she says her world is her little family, which includes her husband and their 7-year-old son, Sebastian.  

She recently took the time to discuss her experiences at the hospital and other thoughts.

What is your typical day like at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital?

My day starts at 7 a.m., usually with examining prescriptions from the Night Room. That’s where the doctors will leave me all the prescriptions they wrote during the night, and I peek at them to find any problems that need to be resolved before the day starts. I then print an inventory report to check for problems and see what needs to be restocked.

Once the doors open, I basically try to get all my background work (ordering, filing, problem-solving, controlled substance reconciling, restocking, training, compounding, etc.) done while helping with the front input prescriptions and answering many questions.

I also teach the pharmacy rotation with our pharmacy manager, Maggie Cooke. We do compounding, CRI (Constant Rate Infusion) problems, help them learn how to input prescriptions, check prescription doses, and expose them to common errors that happen with medications.  

What made you want to work in veterinary medicine and at the teaching hospital?

I’ve worked in pharmacy for about 18 years. After college I didn’t really know what I wanted to do so I continued working at Safeway Pharmacy and took a full-time position, but after a few years, I got burnt out with the hours and having to deal with insurance companies.

I loved pharmacy but wanted to try something different, so I took a job at Pullman Regional Hospital in the pharmacy. I loved this job because it was a completely different pace. Six months into that job, someone recommended me for the position at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. I was hesitant at first, but my husband encouraged me to apply, and it was love at first sight. You do not need a college education to become a pharmacy technician (there is a lot of education required), but what appealed to me at the VTH pharmacy job is they only wanted to hire a pharmacy technician with a bachelor’s degree. I loved being a pharmacy technician but always felt guilty that I wasn’t using my education, and this job made me feel like I was getting all of it. 

What is your favorite thing about your job?

My favorite part of the job is the students – I love helping them, working with them, and watching them grow over their fourth year of education. It’s the most amazing experience. I also love that I am constantly learning and growing in my job.  

What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?

I want to continue to learn, and I always want to do better. I see myself here for the long run.  

What do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy my family so much; we tend to be homebodies, but we do get out and hike, bike ride and just hang out. My son and husband are active in soccer so that always keeps us very busy. 

What advice would you give to pet owners?

A lot of our clients are from out of town, so when it’s time to refill a medication that is due most people want to fill it in a pharmacy near them. I recommend they call us so we can walk them through the process of transferring that prescription. Also, there is no such thing as a stupid question – we encourage owners to call us if they have any questions or concerns about their medications.