"As a kid I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was always bringing home stray cats and we also had dogs, rodents, reptiles, and rabbits, so I was familiar with a lot of species and was always intrigued by their different needs and personalities.
After working as a dog groomer for several years, I earned my associate degree at the Colorado Academy of Veterinary Technology. Not every state requires a degree to work as a veterinary technician or veterinary nurse. In some states, you can get your training on the job, but I felt like I would benefit from the formal education, and it helped me land my current job at the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center as a veterinary nurse for exotic, zoological and wildlife species.
I assist amazing veterinarians and vet students in animal handling, anesthetizing, diagnostics, surgeries and treatments. We see client-owned exotic companion animals such as ferrets, rabbits, rodents, reptiles and birds. We provide the primary veterinary services for Sunset Zoo here in Manhattan. We also get a lot of wildlife that are brought in when they are sick or injured. We work closely with the Milford Nature Center near Junction City to treat wild animals and send them back for release.
Every day, I get to do what I love, and I learn something new. In the future, I’d like to further my career by earning a specialist credential in exotic companion animals through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).
I’d encourage students who enjoy biology and animals to consider a career in this field. It’s very fulfilling, but it does not come without some sadness, because sometimes you lose an animal. It's a lot of hard work, especially because your patients can't always show you their appreciation. But it's an important job. Also, don't let anyone tell you that you'll never be able to find a job working with uncommon species — they’re out there. I found one, so you can, too.”