We spoke with Kasey, our Animal Care Manager, about her education and career as a veterinary technician and what led her to Zen Habitats.
Q: What is a veterinary technician's role in animal care?
"The American Animal Hospital Association defines a veterinary technician as an animal nurse, but the job involves much more. We also act as patient advocates, phlebotomists, and radiology, laboratory, anesthesia, and surgery technicians."
Q: What are education and training requirements?
"Licensed technicians need to complete an associate degree in veterinary technology from a college accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. After graduating, you must pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam to receive a license. For each state, this varies. In Massachusetts, technicians need to complete 12 hours of continuing education every year to keep their accreditation."
Q: What does the associate degree curriculum include?
"There are too many courses to mention. They include animal anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, animal handling, pharmacology, anesthesia, radiology, and surgical nursing."
Q: Where did you go to school?
"I enrolled in the two-year program at the New England Institute of Technology."
Q: Why did you become a veterinary technician?
"After working at a Fortune 500 company for several years, I realized I wanted more. I wanted to be fulfilled and make a positive change in the world. I thought about different careers, and then it dawned on me, I love animals, so why not work with them?"
Q: Were you getting hands-on experience while studying for your degree?
"I had a feeling that I did not want to work specifically with dogs and cats, so I volunteered at a petting zoo. It was a great way to get experience with several different species. I fed, cleaned, and groomed goats, horses, chinchillas, turtles, blue-tongued skinks, ball pythons, leopard geckos, and more. I also worked as a veterinary assistant at a general veterinary practice, picking up shifts here and there, and a second shift position at our local emergency and specialty hospital."
Q: Did you complete an internship?
"Yes. I knew I wanted to get more experience with exotic animals. There are fewer exotic-specific practices, and my area didn't have many options. I was able to find a facility about an hour away from my home. They also treated wildlife, and that appealed to me."
Q: After you graduated, what was your first job?
"I fell in love with rehabilitating wildlife and wanted to do nothing else. Three months before graduating, I applied for wildlife, zoo, and aquarium positions throughout the country and even Canada. I landed the role of Animal Care Manager at a wildlife rehabilitation facility 400 miles from my hometown. We cared for more than 100 different species, including birds, squirrels, and opossums."
Q: What brought you to Zen Habitats?
"I was browsing open positions and came across a posting for animal care manager at Zen Habitats. The company is committed to the ethical and humane keeping of reptiles, which appealed to me. Now I take care of more than 20 reptiles and coordinate their medical care. I also work with the team on fun and educational content for our website and social media!