RCTC Veterinary Technicians Do More Than Keep Pets Healthy
If you take your white, ginger speckled cat to Meadow View Veterinary Clinic in Byron, Minn., chances are the first person to welcome you will be an RCTC graduate.
There’s a good reason for that.
“I have been working with RCTC veterinary technicians since 2003. I have found many of them to be well prepared for their career as a vet tech. They have been eager to continue learning and expanding their knowledge even after graduating,” Meadow View Veterinary Clinic owner and doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) Garren Kelly said.
Kelly has owned Meadow View since 2010 and Stewartville Animal Clinic since 2016. Each year he offers RCTC veterinary technician students internships at both clinics and has hired several of them who still work at both locations today.
The vet techs love their roles helping animals at Meadow View.
“It has its ups and downs, that’s for sure,” Meadow View certified veterinary technician Whitney Bartley, said. “I’m not sure I knew when I got into the field how emotionally attached to some cases I would get. But it’s a really rewarding job. We get to help people better understand how to take care of their pets to make sure they stay healthy.”
Meadow View certified veterinary technician Bonnie Grebin, concurs.
“I’ve always been a caretaker, and have a love for animals,” she said
Bartley said the program at RCTC prepared her well for her current role.
“The program was great. Very informative and a lot of fun,” she said. “It really did give me all the necessary skills to be able to perform my job to the best of my ability.”
That’s not to say the day-to-day can’t get a little hectic.
“How do I say crazy without making it sound like a bad thing?” Bartley said. “You just never know what’s going to walk through the door. We have our scheduled surgeries and appointments for the day, then next thing you know we have to do an emergency surgery on a dog that was hit by a car, or a patient who needs to be hospitalized for supportive care. It’s very busy, at least at our clinic, but I love every second of it.”
Kim Rowley, DVM leads RCTC’s veterinary technician program. She explained that there are quite a few RCTC graduates who work in town.
“Some of our students actually work in clinics while they’re in school,” Rowley said.
Students partake in two internships in the program. For the first one, RCTC works with several local clinics where technicians are on staff, and also follow the program’s standards and ideals for practice.
During sophomore year, the second internship is more diverse. Some decide to do a zoo internship, one student is currently at Mayo, and another is in Roseville, Minn., working at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota.
“The second one we kind of let the students choose where they want to go,” Rowley said. “We kind of like to (fit) their second-year internship to what they want.”
While many vet tech graduates work in local veterinary clinics, there are actually a number of other career opportunities available for graduates. Something unique to Rochester is the ability to do research after graduating from the program.
“Many times, those are medical facilities that are doing research on animals; that’s the case at Mayo here, but there are veterinarians and veterinary technicians on staff that actually oversee the human physicians and make sure they are treating the animals properly in their research studies,” Rowley said.
RCTC graduate Lisa Yngsdal is currently an animal cell technician at Mayo Clinic in the department of surgery.
“Our area provides surgical support for research investigators performing surgical procedures on large animals,” Yngsdal said. “The large animals consist of rabbits, dogs, sheep, goats, and primarily pigs. Our primary services include but are not limited to protocol development for studies, surgical patient preparation, anesthesia monitoring, and surgical assistance. Every study is different and every group of researchers we work with requires different services from us.”
Yngsdal also works in private small companion animal practice, but really had an interest in surgery and anesthesia.
RCTC graduate Alyssa Vrieze also works as an animal cell technician.
She said her day can consist of scrubbing in to assist or facilitate surgeries like tendon repairs, carpal tunnel induction, digit replantation, or any other studies she is assigned to.
“I then either make sure the surgical animals are fully recovered, or check on already recovered animals making sure they are still active and normal,” Vrieze added.
When it comes to the veterinary technician role, there are numerous ways to work with animals.
“For someone thinking about getting into the field of a veterinary technician, I would advise they do some research to understand the career options that it allows, such as research facilities, general clinics, emergency clinics, university settings,” Kelly said.
Yngsdal said that RCTC is a good place to get the education for a career with animals.
“I enjoyed the RCTC program,” she said. “The instructors were kind and knowledgeable. I liked the smaller class sizes so you could actually focus on your skills and get the help you needed when required. The program provided me with a general knowledge and basic skills to be successful in the vet tech field. It gave me a good backbone to know what is to be expected of me in the ‘real world.’”