Pamela Payne is the Veterinary Assisting Program Director at Carrington College’s Portland campus. She knew at a young age that she wanted to work with animals. She started “hands-on training” at four-years-old, going to work with her dad at a primate research center. By the time she was in sixth grade, she could recite information about every mammal in the encyclopedia!
Payne began her career as a medical assistant1 and quickly realized that she wanted to use her skills to help animals. She took her first job with a local veterinary clinic when she was 22.
She had many adventures along the way before she found herself at Carrington College’s Portland campus in 2003. At one point, Payne juggled nine jobs – working for a beautician, with a naturopathic doctor and as a dental assistant1 while also managing a pizza parlor and an apartment complex, serving at a local restaurant and supporting a veterinarian. Through it all, she continued to work with animals in any way that she could.
Payne took on roles at pet stores and veterinary clinics to gain experience with a variety of species. She also had the opportunity to work with Brad’s World Reptiles and Oregon Wildlife Foundation.
In addition to her work with Carrington College, Payne has 150 animals on a private, 10-acre farm. She started out with a variety of snakes and lizards, monkeys and Siberian lynx. The farm grew as Payne adopted animals and took in rescue pets over the years. There is Victoria “Tori” the tortoise, Rosie the tarantula, Pickles the dumpy frog, Annee the coatimundi and an alligator named SeeMoreTeeth, to name a few.
Payne’s animals have become an integral part of the hands-on training her students receive. The animals regularly visit students, especially during “breed” tests. She recently brought in 18 species to help students visualize the animals and to determine how to differentiate the sex. She also shares her love for animals by making regular trips to senior centers in the area.
“Most people have a hobby and they have work,” said Payne. “For me, it is one in the same. I work and play with animals seven days a week”.
Veterinary assisting is the best of all worlds for Payne. It gives her the opportunity to work with both people and animals. And with the Veterinary Assisting program, you walk away with knowledge from nearly every other program at Carrington College – medical assisting, massage therapy, pharmacy technology and dental assisting…it’s just applied to animals rather than people.
Her advice for potential students is to job shadow for a day. Veterinary assisting is about more than petting and playing with animals; it is about helping them receive the best possible care.
 Individuals seeking to enter this career field may be subject to screenings such as, but not limited to, criminal background checks and drug/alcohol testing prior to externship, to attain occupational licensure/certification or employment and throughout their careers.
Important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rate of students who attended these programs can be found at https://carrington.edu/GE/.