Animal Care Advice from Industry Professionals

Animal Care Advice from Industry Professionals
Lara Casanova

Lara Casanova is passionate about animals and their well- being, including her own Golden Retriever, Suzy. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that Lara decided to turn her love of animals into a career, becoming a member of the Adelaide Animal Hospitals team, as a Practice Manager.

Lara works hard to organise and plan the daily and future operations of the hospital, whilst helping staff to meet their goals. The practice has very high standards which need to be met. It was even awarded “Hospital of Excellence” by the Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association, a title that only 28 practices across Australia have the honour of calling themselves.

As well as running the practice, Lara loves studying and learning new skills to implement into her daily role, to benefit staff, clients and the hospital. Sara has completed a number of courses, in accounting, frontline management, small business management, counselling, practice management as well as training and assessment.

We’ve been lucky enough to get five minutes of Lara’s time, to talk to her about her experience within the animal industry...

“I love meeting with clients who have their animal’s best interests at heart.”

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1 What advice would you offer our veterinary nurse students looking for a job in the industry?

I believe if a student is passionate about gaining entry into the animal care industry and they have the intelligence and capabilities, they will find employment. However, here are some of my top tips:

  • Spend time doing work experience to gain knowledge of the industry.
  • Have a genuine love and passion for animals.
  • Have an outstanding, positive, motivating outlook on life in general.
  • Have a strong desire to achieve and succeed.
  • Be willing to study and work to the best of your abilities.
  • Have good customer service skills.

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2 What are the top three characteristics you look for when hiring a veterinary nurse?

1. I would check their general attitude and work ethic.

2. They need to have a passion for animals and follow best practice.

3. I would make sure that they have good values and that any new veterinary nurse will fit into the culture of our business.

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3 What are the most rewarding moments of working in animal care?

Working in animal care is very rewarding, especially because at Adelaide Animal Hospital, we provide very high standards of care to our patients and their animals. I love meeting with clients who have their animal’s best interests at heart. Plus, it’s great to work with a team of vets and nurses who are all so committed, loyal and passionate about the industry and their roles in the veterinary hospital. Overall, the industry itself is a fabulous environment.

4 What are the longer-term prospects of starting off in veterinary nursing?

If you’re starting out in veterinary nursing, there are many different career prospects, especially in larger clinics. In our clinic, we always try to cater to the team’s likes and strengths and give them responsibilities in the area they are passionate about, to help them develop.

There are also many further study options, with various diplomas specialising in different fields, such as to become an accredited nurse. This could lead to opportunities for promotion, such as to a senior veterinary nurse, or perhaps a practice business manager.

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There could also be opportunities to take on other levels of responsibility within the clinic. For example, at Adelaide Animal Hospital you could become a stock controller, puppy class co-ordinator, client relations co-ordinator, cat adoption co-ordinator, as well as many other varied responsibilities.

Or, if you want to move on, outside of the clinic environment, many nurses find themselves moving to roles such as sales representatives, with manufacturers in the animal care Industry.

5 Can you tell us about the day-to-day duties of a veterinary nurse at your organisation?

No day is ever the same. It could include anything from working on reception, answering phones, being in surgery, consulting, providing treatments and much more. They will also work beside the vets, to provide assistance where required. It’s therefore important to be a good people and animal person, as you need to work efficiently and effectively with staff, clients and patients.

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6 What's the most exciting thing about working in the animal care industry?

It’s exciting to see our standards of care improve, to provide wellness and preventative medicines. We believe that because pets age faster than humans, all pets should have a 6 monthly wellness exam, providing the opportunity to discover disease earlier, or prevent them entirely. Also, as certain breeds are predisposed to certain genetic traits and diseases, we can then aim to prevent these from occurring and keep our pets well for longer.

7 Is there anything else you would like to add?

The animal care industry is an amazing place to work, especially if you have a genuine and authentic love for the animals and the industry. Every day is different, challenging and extremely rewarding. You will go home each and every day knowing you have made a difference to many beautiful animals that deserve only the best of care on every occasion.

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If you’re interested in working with animals, then you can find out more about the industry, with interviews from other professionals here.