“My course has given me the ability to be involved with, and contribute to, a vet clinic where I’m doing more than just cleaning and feeding. This experience and the vet nurse qualification will allow me to obtain employment where I can save the lives of animals every day”.
After almost 20 years in an IT-related career, Melbourne local Serena Barker decided to change direction. Choosing to study a course online has given her the opportunity to study the ACM40412 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing and open doors to a rewarding new career helping to care for vulnerable animals.
“I’d been supporting accounting software since about 1995, helping accountants operate the software used to lodge people’s tax returns”, says Serena of her vocational beginnings as a customer service support officer.
However, a time came when she realised she wasn’t getting as much out of her current career as she could.
“After completing a difficult job, I asked myself ‘why am I doing this?’ When I couldn’t answer, I knew then that I had to find my passion”, she says.
It was in Queensland in 2008 that Serena had a light bulb moment and decided to get into animal care but she found it a challenge to get into a local TAFE course.
“You had to already have had two-days paid work in the field but I couldn’t get the two days paid work anywhere because I didn’t have the Certificate! It was like Catch-22”.
Enrolling into online study at Open Colleges Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing was, therefore, a great relief.
The course gives learners insider knowledge, not only about the industry, but also animal care. Students learn animal clinic safety processes and build on existing animal knowledge and expertise.
As Serena explains, “I’ve been a pet owner all my life, and there’s things about nutrition and worming, for instance, that I would never have known without doing these study modules”.
The course also includes a work placement, where students gain the practical skills needed when handling animals in many different situations – including washing, grooming and clinical procedures, under the direction of a veterinary professional.
“I’m doing a work placement at South Eastern Animal Hospital”, says Serena.
Her day-to-day involves assisting with checking-in animals, preparing any drugs for surgery, preparing the animals for surgery, monitoring them while they’re in surgery, talking to the clients, giving them advice on products and food and general health care for their animals.
“I love it. The people there are great. They teach me everything, and if I see something that I want to know, I can just ask and then they will tell me”.
Do the animals ever surprise her?
“Animals do cute, oddball things – and some strange cases do come in. One dog actually swallowed the foot off a teddy bear! Thankfully, they operated and got it out”.
After she receives her certification, Serena would love to get a job as a vet nurse in a shelter and be involved in the re-homing of stray and unwanted animals.
“I’d love to see every animal get a home and vet nurses are a big part of that – to get them healthy and ready for their new owners”.
To help others make the most of their own “light bulb moments”, Serena believes in listening to your inner voice.
“If you’re doing something you don’t want to do, you’re never going to enjoy it and that can impact on other things in your life. I know first-hand now if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”.
Veterinary nurses are usually employed by veterinarian practices and animal hospitals and may act as assistants to veterinarians. They find employment in professional, scientific and technical services, as well as health care and social assistance.
According to the Australian government’s Job Outlook website, employment for veterinary nurses is expected to grow strongly up to the year 2017.
As someone who changed careers so late in life, what advice would Serena tell her younger self?
“To stay in school and do vet nursing or veterinary science from day one. That is what I would tell my children too. Do what makes you happy”.
Would a course give you a brand new career focus?
Not all Open Colleges courses are linked to careers; sometimes they just develop your passion and skills. Do any of these courses inspire you? We might just be able to help you fuel your imagination and realise your dreams!