Pursuing Dreams and Overcoming Challenges: Ashley Campbell’s Path to Veterinary Assisting

Ashley Campbell had been a stay-at-home mom for six years, but as a wife and mother of three young daughters, she wanted to help bring more income into the family. Her occasional jobs in retail and food service weren’t getting it done. She finally asked herself the big question: What would she love to do that would also make a more significant financial contribution?

Her love of animals rushed to the forefront of her dream job. She hit the internet for veterinary career education programs and found Carrington College’s Veterinary Assisting program. There was no looking back.


How long have you had this Veterinary Assistant career dream?

I had my first horse, named Chipper, at 3-years old. I helped bathe him and feed him apples. We had at least ten dogs, growing up and I helped bathe and feed them, played ball with them.


What inspired you to explore Carrington College’s Veterinary Assisting program?

Ever since I could understand what a job was, all I ever wanted was to be was a veterinarian. I’d seen some vet assistant jobs popping up and I figured this would be the perfect first step.


What was that first step?

Carrington College was the first school to pop up and I went on site and applied online for more information about the Veterinary Assisting program. Someone called me in a matter of minutes.

Our conversation lasted about half an hour; she asked what I thought about the program and what my goals were with this education.

It felt really right and a couple of days later I went in for a tour of the campus and class. The Financial Services Advisor sat with me and my mom (Deborah) and we talked about cost. My husband, Justin, doesn’t really believe in schooling, but he was very supportive. My mother-in-law, Christina, helped us out with tuition.


Were there any major roadblocks to going back to school?

We had a rough patch losing our apartment and moving in with my mom and dad until we could get back on our feet. My oldest daughter was diagnosed with a type of cancer and had lost an eye, but she’s been clear of cancer for almost two years now. Our second daughter was recently diagnosed with autism, and we are learning how to communicate better with her.

But I was told as a kid – you can do whatever you want, if you put your mind to it. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.  Everyone was very supportive of me following my career dreams.


What was the biggest surprise about your Veterinary Assisting program?

We went on field trips to large vet clinics where we could observe animal treatments like a torn ACL ligament on a dog, as well as ultrasound, x-rays and surgeries. Surgery in dental assisting is my hands-down favorite thing to do. I like it because it’s cool to see the before-and-after dental cleaning and extractions and the processes that prolong the animals’ lives.


What were highlights of those on-site visits?

Just being there, seeing surgeries, how things are done, was very exciting for me. Made me realize I’m here for a reason and that I chose the right career path – even though I’d waited years to figure out what I really wanted to do.


What was the best thing about your Veterinary Assisting program?

It was pretty cool to have some animals in class. Classmates and our instructor brought in animals…dogs, cats, chickens. We took vitals, drew blood on cats and dogs, clipped chickens’ wings so they couldn’t fly out of their coops. It was pretty educational.


Did you get the instructor support you needed?

My teacher was extremely helpful. If I had any questions, she was there to help, even after-hours. Teachers will set certain times in the week for you to come in, study or get extra help. That’s what they’re there for.

I feel like we were pretty well prepared for everything we were going to be doing.


Was your family supportive of the commitment you made to your education?

My husband has been very helpful, watching the kids. He also helped me with math because I hate math. He helped me understand how equations work and where to plug in the numbers. I was nervous, but he was, ‘You got this, and I’ll help you get through this’. I got a pretty good grade on that final (exam).


What inspired you to keep pushing forward?

I would definitely say the love I have for my daughters and family – and the love I have for animals. And wanting to provide more income for the family.

If you put your mind to anything, you can get through it – even if there are hard times. I really believe we all have the tools we need to make our vision a reality.


Who set such a strong example for you?

I watched my mom struggle being single with two kids, and I don’t know how she did it. I look up to her and just want to be the best mom I can be to provide for my kids.

I was told, as a kid, ‘You can do whatever you want, if you put your mind to it. If it’s meant to be, it will happen. Just keep on going.’


Where did you land after graduating from Carrington College’s Veterinary Assisting program?

I went to work at Columbia Veterinary Center as a Veterinary Assistant; it’s where I did my externship (six-week experience as a VA student at Carrington College), and I absolutely love it here. I’m constantly asking questions, getting feedback; and I’m so eager to learn and succeed.


Describe your current responsibilities

As a Vet Assistant, I write down whatever the doctor says for the animal’s chart when he’s examining an animal – primarily dogs and cats.  I perform procedures like nail trims, anal gland expression, blood draws and tests. I chart vitals when an animal is sedated, check heart rate, etc. I stand in and observe medical surgical procedures. I am also able to perform vaccinations.


Do you feel you have job security?

Everyone is so welcoming here and they educate – never belittle. I’m constantly asking questions, eager to learn and succeed and getting feedback that they enjoy having me here.


What is the next step in your animal health career?

I want to eventually move up from Vet Assistant to a Vet Technician to have even more input. All I ever wanted was to be a veterinarian. I think eventually I might get there.


What is your vision for the future?

I hope to see myself and my family in a really nice house with some land. My husband and I both want the same thing: a place to have the kids play, have cousins come over….and, of course, some animals.

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