For the love of animals: A tale of two veterinary nurses

By Sucheta Singh, Marketing and Communications 

Amanda Brackett and Lauren Basford have something in common: They both love animals. So much so, they’ve made careers out of it.

Amanda works in the oncology department at Canada West Vet. She receives and registers patients – mainly dogs, cats and other small animals – on chemotherapy days and administers blood tests. Then she preps the patient with an IV and administers chemo. Her work isn’t easy, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love it,” she says, “but it’s not suited to just anyone. The job involves stuff that your average animal lover wouldn’t want to do. It’s not all cuddling puppies and kittens.”

Lauren, on the other hand, works with larger animals, mainly horses. She makes house calls; that is, she visits her patients at home – at farms and at stables. Lauren says she sees anywhere from two to 16 patients a day.

“No day is ever the same. That’s what I really like. I love being outside, and I love not being stuck in an office,” she says.

Amanda and Lauren have something else in common: Both graduated three years ago from the Veterinary Technology (VTEC) program at Douglas College. The two-year diploma program prepares graduates to be veterinary nurses.

“It was a perfect fit for me. I really wanted to work in a veterinary atmosphere and work with animals, but I didn’t want to spend eight years at vet school,” says Lauren.

“You learn a lot in two years,” adds Amanda. “And we got lots of chances to practice on live animals, which really helps now that I’m working on them every day.”

The program offers hands-on practicum and internship experience, which both Lauren and Amanda participated in. There are three practicum placements, one in the first year, and two in the second year. The third and final placement is an internship. VTEC helps students with the placements. Both Amanda and Lauren landed jobs through their internship experiences.

If you’re thinking of becoming a veterinary nurse, Lauren and Amanda have some advice for you:

  • Learn as much as you can from the program.
  • Be patience and understanding. Pet owners and handlers may say things in the heat of the moment because of stress, so you need to know how to handle that.
  • Have a passion for animals.
  • Be prepared for a career in a fast-paced environment that requires you to think on your feet.

Want to learn more? Information sessions take place Nov.7 and Dec. 5 at 5pm at the Coquitlam Campus in room A1470. For more information about the VTEC program, visit douglascollege.ca/vtec.

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