In this Alumni Spotlight we caught up with Mackenzie Brothers. She is a Veterinary Assistant graduate who currently works as an instructor at Great Lakes Institute of Technology in the Veterinary Assistant department.
What where you doing prior to enrollment? What made you enroll in school?
I had just recently got my associate’s degree and, like most people my age, had no idea what I wanted to do. Funnily enough, most people in this field knew they wanted to be working with animals since they were in diapers. I didn’t until I was told by a family member about Great Lakes Institute of Technology. While looking into it I saw that they had a Veterinary Assistant program. It caught my eye immediately and I knew that this is where I wanted to be. I always loved animals and I always loved the medical sciences. It was the perfect combination!
Where have you worked since you graduated and where do you currently work? What is your title?
I have and continue to work during my time off at Lakeshore Animal Hospital as a Veterinary Assistant and Receptionist. It was where I had gone for my externship site, and they loved me so much there that they hired me!
What made you want to become an instructor? What do you like about being an instructor?
As a Veterinary Assistant, a surprising amount of what you do is geared toward educating owners on how to raise and take care of their companions. I felt becoming an instructor only felt natural. It allowed me to continue to educate others on how to improve the quality of an animal’s life.
Have you noticed, being an instructor, that there is a lot of demand for our veterinary assistant graduates?
There is a high demand for veterinary assistant graduates. Most places that I and my colleagues know about are always looking for fresh and eager minds.
What types of things do you do there day-to-day?
As a Veterinary Assistant I am expected to restrain and handle animals for physical exams and procedures; educate clients on how to properly care for an animal throughout all stages of life; care and monitor hospitalized patients; disinfect cages/kennels and exam rooms; administer medications and vaccinations the veterinarian prescribed; assist in routine laboratory tests, such as urinalysis and blood work.
What do you like about being a veterinary assistant?
Of course the animals! There is nothing more satisfying than finally being able to provide some relief to an animal. When an owner reports back how their companion animal is so much happier, or acting like himself/herself again, it brings me immense joy.
What did you like most about attending Great Lakes and what did you like most about the Veterinary Assistant program?
I liked the sense of community the most. The teachers were always willing to help me when faced with a challenge I did not understand. Being a vet assistant requires the ability to work in a team. I really appreciated being able to rely on my classmates as we worked with animals or studied for the next big test.
I also heavily enjoyed how hands-on the program was. The first term builds the foundation of what we know, but after that, we were performing nail trims, blood draws, administering vaccines, and running basic laboratory tests that you do out in the field! It allowed me to feel more confident going into the field.
What are your career goals for the future?
Hopefully, to continue working in the field I love and provide the education others will need so that they may also pursue a career in the animal medical field.
What advice can you give current students and new graduates that can help them be successful?
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! Metaphorically and literally. Get involved in class, even if it means shouting out the wrong answer in front of everyone. It will only help you to improve. Being active and participating really helps to build your knowledge. It will also give confidence when it comes to test-taking or when it comes to handling animals. Others will respect you more for your initiative, and that confidence will make animals and their owners feel safer working with you.