Mentors in the Spotlight

Colonial Animal Clinic
ABC Externship Facility

Colonial Animal Clinic started working with Animal Behavior College in 2011. The 3,285-sq-ft hospital is located in Flatwoods, Ky. It is a one-doctor practice and typically sees 26 patients a day. The clinic is equipped to do surgeries, radiographs, dentals, grooming and boarding. Cats and dogs are the primary patients, with the occasional pet bird added to the mix. The office manager at the facility, Reva Allen Ford, happily supplied the following answers.

Why is it important for students who want to become a veterinary assistant to have on the job experience?
Theory without practice is dead; you can’t develop skills without practice. Most businesses want an applicant with skills— without skills, an applicant isn’t as employable. In addition, it’s impossible to get ready for real-life situations without the ability to respond to real-life situations. That ability to respond comes with hands-on training.

What is the most important skill for a veterinary assistant to learn in the hospital?
It’s a toss-up between communication and restraint. It’s so important in any job to have good communication skills. I can’t think of any skill that an employee will use more, no matter their position. If we’re poor communicators, we’re not going to get along very well professionally or personally. Students need practice with interviewing, practice communicating with clients (taking patient histories, client education) and practice communicating with doctors and staff. Then there’s restraint—without proper restraint there’s no exam and forget any type of diagnostics—plus the holder puts themselves and their peers at risk for injury. In my opinion, restraint is the foundation of all learned skills. Teaching, practicing and perfecting restraint is paramount to a student’s success in gaining a strong skill set.

How has your experience been since becoming an ABC Mentor Facility?
Our experience has been a very positive experience. I must add, though, that we invest a lot of time, energy and effort into each student. If a mentoring facility isn’t willing to do so, they’re not going to enjoy our success. It’s a simple matter of cause and effect—you get back what you put in.

What do you do with your students to help them gain as much experience, skill, and knowledge as they can before graduating?
The first thing we do is encourage the student to spend more than their required 90 hours of externship. If the student is willing to invest the time, we’re willing to give back generously. In addition, from day one, we follow the “Competency Evaluation Form” checking off skills as they’re learned. Students starting in the kennel learn the basics of animal care, and gain a better appreciation for that “lowliest” of positions.

Would you recommend ABC to anyone looking to pursue a career in veterinary assisting? If so, why?
Absolutely, ABC goes beyond theory. They play a huge supportive role in assuring the success of each student. They act as liaison between student and practice, helping place students in externship positions in close proximity to that student’s home; they provide open dialogue between the student and the practice assuring that course requirements are met and completed; and they “hold” the student’s “hand” from start to finish. I especially love their follow-through.


 

Jefferson County SPCA
ABC Externship Facility

The Jefferson SPCA is a nonprofit organization that is located in Watertown New York. This shelter was founded in 1891 to help protect and care for the domestic animals in Jefferson County. This is also the only non-kill shelter in the surrounding area. They also have another satellite location that is located inside the local PetCo where they are able to set up adoptions to adopt out animals in need of homes. The shelter houses a number of animals from dogs and cats to birds and reptiles as well as some other small animals. The shelter is open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00pm and extended hours till 7 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.

The great staff at the Jefferson SPCA are always willing to take on and mentor our veterinary assistant students in the area. The students volunteer their school required hours at the shelters on site veterinary location. This is where the students are able to help assist the veterinarian in preparing for surgery, restrain the animals for necessary vaccinations, administer medications, inserting microchips, as well as making sure the facility is a clean and safe environment so as to keep all the housed animals healthy. One of the biggest pieces of advice that can give to all potential vet assistant students help them succeed is to “listen, follow procedure, and pay attention to what the veterinarian is asking of you.”.

The staff at Jefferson SPCA always recommends Animal Behavior College to anyone looking for a career in the veterinary field. They are located in a type of rural area where the education for this field is limited and the closest school is over an hour away, whereas ABC can help provide the schooling and knowledge for the students in their homes. The facility thinks it is very important for students to receive on the job experience which is gained through the externship portion of the program because no amount of educational experience can compare to on the job training.

Over the years the facility has taken on about 100 volunteers many of which have been ABC students. They love having volunteers and are always willing and eager to share their knowledge and tips on how to perform tasks properly and easily. They feel that they and ABC share a similar bon of rescue. They love being able to educate and spread the word about the need for rescuing, spaying/ neutering, and adopting animals through the ABC students. Their greatest joy that they are able to share with the students is when one of the resident animals is adopted out to a new forever home.


 

Humane Society of San Bernardino Valley
ABC Externship Facility

The Humane Society of San Bernardino Valley (HSSBV) began on March 16, 1970, with a few dedicated volunteers who were there to care for and improve the quality of life for many animals. Joyce Young Martin was the driving force behind the HSSBV, which incorporated her dream of developing a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in the area. By educating people about animals, both domestic and wild, Joyce was able to bring in more people to help make her dream a reality.

Located on Orange Show Road in San Bernardino, Calif., the HSSBV is open Monday through Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for walk-ins and appointments, and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon for walk-ins only as well as a vaccination clinic. They have taken on at least 10 ABC students for externships so far. Even though it is a humane society, HSSBV provides ABC students with a well-rounded experience, working with both clients and the patients during surgeries, treatments and routine procedures.

Students can’t learn everything in a classroom. At HSSBV, thanks to Dr, Raines and several staff members ABC students get lots of hands-on experience, including client education and client/patient interaction. Those at the facility stress that one important skill a veterinary assistant needs to learn is how to communicate well with clients and how to educate the clients on their pet’s needs. Every ABC student who has externed at HSSBV enjoyed their time and never failed to express thanks for having learned so much.

This facility primarily sees cats, dogs and rabbits. At the Humane Society of the San Bernardino Valley, they love teaching others and seeing them succeed. The staff ensures ABC students complete all the necessary externship tasks and experience everything from checking clients and their pets in to assisting during surgery and recovery. Dr. Raines typically pairs students with either a veterinary assistant or an RVT who enjoys mentoring. The staff at HSSBV also knows it’s equally important to educate students on veterinary assistant tasks, as it is to teach them about the prevention of pet overpopulation.

The HSSBV provides low-cost spaying and neutering services, low-cost vaccinations, medical services to pets and education classes to more than 17,000 children. Through their hard working team members (one of which is a prior student of ABC’s), volunteers, generous donations and humane education programs, HSSBV will continue to make a difference by caring for and protecting the animals within their community.


 

The Humane Society of El Paso
ABC Externship Facility

In the past few months Animal Behavior College has been fortunate enough to spark a wonderful partnership with The Humane Society of El Paso. This facility is a very large sanctuary with 100 kennels containing approximately 174 animals. In addition, their foster program cares for 50 to 75 animals off-site, and continues to grow. The veterinarian on staff, Dr. Flossi, sees at least 30 patients per day. He and his staff mainly treat dogs and cats, but occasionally see rats, pigs and donkeys. Their main goal is to find these animals a loving home. They are committed to pairing these pets with families that share this same passion.

The Humane Society of El Paso recognizes the importance of hands-on training when entering any career in the animal industry. They believe that this portion of the ABC program helps students make an informed decision on what further avenues they would like to explore in this field. Dr. Flossi says, “It is important that students have this experience and can then decide if this is the right field for them. In our facility, it is about learning the highs and lows of animal rescue. We want them to know it is important that veterinary professionals see themselves as educators to the public on animal welfare.”

ABC students have been described as “energetic” and “passionate” volunteers. They have shown the staff at the humane society that they have a strong desire to learn and serve the animals and the community. Although ABC has only recently started working with the shelter, 5 students have already been sent there to complete their externship. In fact, the first ABC student has since been hired as a Volunteer Coordinator. The students from ABC are always on the top of the list when they are in need of a new staff member. The staff feels that our relationship has been a positive one because they have gained a new employee and dedicated volunteers.

The staff also believes that the first step to gaining experience, skills, and knowledge, is by putting the student to work! The repetition of tasks and guidance provided by the humane society employees help the students feel confident in their abilities in this ever changing and exciting field. In their opinion, The Humane Society of El Paso believes that ABC is a great place to start if you are looking to pursue a career as a veterinary assistant.

ABC looks forward to having a long standing relationship with The Humane Society of El Paso. This is a wonderful facility that has already opened many doors for ABC students, and hopefully there will be more to come!

4991 Fred Wilson Ave., El Paso, Texas 79906, (915) 532-6971, www.hselpaso.org.


 

ABC Veterinary Hospital
ABC Externship Facility

In 2010, Animal Behavior College began a partnership with ABC Veterinary Hospital in San Diego, California. The school was fortunate enough to connect with Patty, the hospital administrator for the three veterinary hospitals owned by Dr. Michael Weber, who was eager to participate in the Animal Behavior College Veterinary Assistant Mentor Program. This trio of mentoring hospitals is located in Kearny Mesa, Pacific Beach, and Uptown.

All three facilities are a two doctor practice with a staff of generally 4-8 members. They primarily see cats and dogs; however, Dr. Weber has worked with a variety of farm animals in past and still sees them from time to time. He has worked hard to establish facilities that have “…a compassionate, knowledgeable and professional staff that utilizes the foremost technological advances and implements the latest medical practices” whose goal it is “…to educate and involve clients in a lifetime health care plan for their special companions.” The ABC veterinary staff values the bond between the pet and their owner and is committed to fostering that relationship in any way they can.

From the beginning, Animal Behavior College students have always been welcomed at their respective facilities, from the moment they start their externship hours until they complete them. Each facility receives between 20-40 patients a day so Animal Behavior College students are exposed to diverse veterinary cases. ABC Veterinary Hospital expects volunteer students to take initiative and be very proactive during their externship. Students must be ready to jump in to help out in any way possible and not be afraid to get a “little dirty.” Patty voiced that she, Dr. Weber, and the rest of the staff have a passion for helping animals get well and enjoy sharing that passion with Animal Behavior College students.

The staff at ABC Veterinary Hospital feels it is important for students starting out in the veterinary field to have on the job experience to prepare themselves for what’s ahead. At the hospital, they gain exposure to a variety of medical situations while working alongside different members of staff including the front staff, technicians and doctors. They would highly recommend the Animal Behavior College Veterinary Assistant program to anyone interested in a career in the veterinary field and hope to continue to inspire and teach our students.

2032 Hornblend St. San Diego, CA. 92109, (858) 270-4120, www.abcvets.com
8020 Ronson Rd. San Diego, CA. 92111, (858) 278-1825, www.abcvets.com
4054 Normal St. San Diego, CA. 92103, (619) 299-6020, www.abcvets.com


 

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