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Top 5 “Need-to-Know” Tips from a Veterinary Assisting MVP

January 23, 2017
Sandy Moore

Sandy Moore is Carrington’s Veterinary Assisting [1] Program Director at the Phoenix North campus. Sandy was recently chosen as the 2016 MVP Community Leader by the Veterinary Health Care Team of Arizona [2] (VHCTAz).

You don’t win awards without knowing your stuff, so we picked Sandy’s award-winning brain to get her top 5 things you need to know about veterinary assisting!

It’s Still Medicine


Credit: Shutterstock/absolutimages

“It’s still medicine. People forget that. They think it’s ‘pet the puppies and kittens’ and that they’ll be just caring for animals like you would at a shelter or kennels, but it’s medicine. You’re treating an upper respiratory infection, you’re vaccinating against diseases that we’re trying to eliminate from their lives. There are surgeries, there are skin infections, eye and ear infections, so it’s still medicine. I think people tend to forget that when it comes to animals. You don’t go to the doctor because you’re healthy, you go because you’re sick; a lot of what we see is sick and unhealthy.”

You Have to Be a People Person

“You can’t tell me ‘I don’t like people, that’s why I want to work with animals!’ Animals don’t take themselves to the vet and animals don’t tell you what’s wrong. You have to figure that out by what the owner says. So you have to be able to talk to people you don’t know, and be comfortable doing that.”

You Have to Be Emotionally Strong

Credit: Shutterstock/VP Photo Studio

“You have to be strong enough to understand that your help isn’t always going to lead to a happy outcome. I let students know that while we take an oath to serve and protect, within that oath is assisting in end of life assistance when warranted. When it’s time you have the right and the responsibility to help them leave the world. There is an emotional barrier that a lot of students have to get over. It can be tough when you have a six year old asking ‘why can’t you fix my dog?’ It can be emotionally draining, you have to be able to handle that. I tell students never get so hard that you don’t feel it, but definitely get a thick enough skin so you don’t show it. If you get to a point where you don’t feel it any more, go do something else.”

You Have to Continue Your Education

“Don’t just take this class, this program, and stop. Know that as medicine grows, you have to grow with it. Seek out new knowledge, new ways of doing things. When I first meet new students, I tell them ‘this is the first step of your journey, not your last.’ Know that this is a lifelong journey. This is a step to help you decide where your future lies – Do you want to be a veterinary assistant or would you prefer office or practice management? Do you want to venture on and become essentially a licensed animal nurse [certified veterinary technician] like I am? Do you want to go all the way and become a doctor [DVM]? Or if this is too taxing for you, would you like to open your own rescue or boarding facility, or go into pet sitting, or grooming? This is the first step, don’t stop.”

It’s Not Just Cats & Dogs Anymore

Credit: Shutterstock/Happy Monkey

“It’s not just cats and dogs anymore. Many people are making birds, ferrets, rodents, so many different kinds of reptiles, pets these days. Don’t come in saying you don’t like lizards, or come in as a dog person who doesn’t like cats. If you’re an animal person, you’re animals all the way! That’s a mistake many people make – they come in thinking ‘I don’t have to learn this, because I don’t like ’em!’ That’s not how it works these days. Too many people aren’t aware that working in regular veterinary practices isn’t just cats and dogs anymore.”

Want to know more about Sandy’s experience…read her Faculty Spotlight here

So What’s the VHCTAz?

Sandy was chosen as the 2016 MVP Community Leader by the Veterinary Health Care Team of Arizona[3]. The VHCTAz is part of the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association…it’s the professional organization for every member of a veterinary office team. It offers access to tools that members need for personal and professional development, so you should definitely consider joining if you choose a career in the field.

“The VHCTAz helps members get continuing education points, or new technology classes to keep them fresh in the industry. Because medicine is constantly changing, you have to constantly seek out the newest and the latest. While every clinic may not be able to afford the latest equipment, at least members can get training and educated on it,” Sandy said.

Veterinary assistants, technicians, receptionists, office managers, veterinarians, kennel staff and others can join the VHCTAz, something that Sandy recommends. “It’s not mandatory, but if you’re in a licensed or certified position, it’s best to join, as you get discounts on classes that are taught. I really do love to teach, and help people grow and gain knowledge for their benefit. I thought that joining would help me better the industry, and my own organization.”

The 2016 MVP Community Leader award recognizes Sandy’s exceptional support and valuable contributions as a distinguished leader, director and instructor. It also noted Sandy’s efforts to encourage high standards from students, pushing them to uphold the 10 Qualities of Highly Effective Veterinary Staff[4] as laid out by the VHCTAz:

·         Accountability

·         Loyalty

·         Knowledge

·         Respect

·         Empathy

·         Responsibility

·         Dedication

·         Positive Attitude

·         Professionalism

·         Tolerance

Do you have those 10 qualities? Could that list be describing you? If so maybe you should seriously think about a career as a veterinary assistant. As Sandy says, it could be the first step in a long exciting career! Learn more about Carrington’s Veterinary Assisting program.


[1] Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rate of students who attended these programs can be found at



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