Nurturing a Love for Animals: Q&A with Veterinary Assisting Grad Juan Ruiz-Hernandez

“Juan Ruiz-Hernandez is a rare type of student who combines exceptional natural ability and eagerness to learn in all skill sets brought before him,” says Stacy Wanous Carrington instructor for the Veterinary Assisting program in Portland, Oregon.  Juan grew up in Portland with many animals around the house. Along with both parents, three older sisters and one younger brother, there were always the family pets, stray cats, and other animals in need. From an early age he developed a compassion for animals and enjoyed helping to care for them. When Juan reached high school and began to think about his future, he thought about the possibility of working with animals.  His sister Marisol, four years older, also had a passion for animals. She had a friend who went to Carrington in the Medical Assisting program, who told them about the Carrington Veterinary Assisting program. Juan and Marisol decided to apply together; they were accepted into the same class and began commuting together. They soon were immersed in all aspects of veterinary assisting work: courses on animal nursing and care, animal surgical nursing and other skills to assist veterinarians, pharmacy practice and pharmacology calculations and administrative skills for working in the front office. Juan and his sister just graduated a few weeks ago. Juan was lucky in that he always knew what he wanted to do; but he has found sticking to your passion, never giving up, gaining knowledge along the way and working at it only deepens the experience and increases the joy.  This is his story.

Knowing you already had a passion for animals, was there anything in your experience of studying in the Veterinary Assisting program that you found challenging?

Yes, some of the topics were challenging, like things related to dosage calculations. But the instructors were always so helpful and insightful.  They were hands-on, always caring about you succeeding in the program. My classmates were always willing to help each other out to ensure we all understood what was being taught to us.

How do you think your eagerness to learn about animals helped you?

I think having a genuine passion for caring for animals made me eager to learn more. And so I think it deepened my whole experience.

Where are you working now?

I work full-time at the veterinary hospital of the Oregon Humane Society. That’s where I did my externship. I applied while I was there and they offered me a job to work at their new veterinary hospital. My sister is at the main shelter for the Humane Society. On days that we have the same schedule, we will meet up during our lunch to discuss how our day is and talk about anything that was interesting.

From your experience, do you have any advice for pet owners?

If you own animals, it’s important to understand animal care. Do the research about what it takes to raise a puppy or kitten. Understand what they need health-wise. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Always ask questions; gaining knowledge is caring for your animal.

Do you have any desire to be a vet?

I do wish to pursue school again in Vet Technology. I like working where I am for a few years and then I’ll go for an associate’s degree.

Any advice you can give to other potential students who are considering one of Carrington’s training programs?

I believe they should take the risk and do it. Carrington has been really amazing and helpful. If you think you have a passion for veterinary, medical, or dental assisting, you’re not going to regret it.

Is there anything else, perhaps another field of study you would like to do with animals someday?

My interest in exotic animals grew when I was in high school. I read a lot about them and watched a lot of videos. I’d like to work with water-based animals like fish or whales someday. One way I thought about starting would be to volunteer at the Oregon Zoo.

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