Level 3 veterinary technician shares her incredible professional journey

Veterinary Technician BluePearl shares her unique background in the veterinary sector and how this inspired her mission to implement animal science education in high schools and technical schools.

Laura Champagne, CVT, BS (Veterinary Technology), a surgical and anesthesia nurse at BluePearl in Waltham, Massachusetts, began her career at BluePearl Pet Hospital in 2016. However, like many others who pursue careers as a veterinary technician, the veterinary medicine was a second career. Prior to a career in companion animal health, Champagne obtained a bachelor’s degree in English and took steps to obtain a master’s degree in teaching. She worked for several years, but nothing seemed to fill her.

Although Champagne had little exposure to the veterinary field during her childhood (other than family visits to the vet), she recognized her love for animals at a young age. She decided to follow her passion and return to school for a career in veterinary medicine in 2012. While in school, she interned at various pet hospitals, including BluePearl. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology, she landed her first job at BluePearl as an Advanced Patient Care Associate. She immediately fell in love with the medical and scientific aspect of the role, the challenge of pet health and the diversity and variation of daily work, especially surgery.

“When an adorable dog or adorable cat comes into the clinic and I love them, there is nothing better,” said Champagne. “I have an innate love for animals and a passion for science, so a career in veterinary medicine was perfect for me. I enjoy caring for pets, especially through surgery to remove bleeding or cancerous lumps, repair broken bones / cross tears, or open airways.

Although new to the field, Champagne says the BluePearl environment was very encouraging, and it helped her progress in her role. After passing the National Veterinary Technician Examination, she quickly moved to level 1, then level 2, then level 3 veterinary technician. As a recognized leader within her hospital, Champagne was asked to lead the internship program. technician, which she did, from 2017 until 2020.

“My management recognized that I enjoyed teaching others and that I was really excited to learn, so I was able to apply it to new interns who were in a boat similar to the one I was. when I started working at BluePearl. The feedback I always received while running the internship program was that we throw them ‘in the deep end’ and allow them to learn practical skills and work with patients, instead of hitting walls. and look aside like a lot of the other hospitals do, ”Champagne explained.

“I think a lot of techs and doctors are very encouraging and have the patience to allow someone new to try and practice the skills enough times to get really good and improve,” she said. for follow-up.

Soon after Champagne got a foothold at BluePearl, she began looking for ways to expose local high school students to veterinary medicine and animal science. In 2018, she started researching and visiting local technical schools that had no animal science curriculum. The greatest luck she had was with Minuteman High School.

“I think it’s important that people are introduced to this career at a younger age, and there is a lack of representation in primary education when I approached Minuteman, they were already thinking about starting a similar program, so the partnership was perfect, ”says Champagne.

“It took 3 years of working with an amazing committee of people who wanted to see this program succeed to launch the program. The half of being a great veterinary nurse is hands-on experience, and with a program like this, students can begin to gain those kinds of experiences before entering a hospital, ”he said. she continued.

Minuteman High School has added Animal Science to its list of vocational technical education specializations for the 2021-22 school year. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education approved Minuteman’s Animal Science program for Chapter 74 Vocational / Technical Education status in June, with assistance from members of the BluePearl Committee.

Outside of work, Champagne is the coordinator of the veterinary medicine program presented by the Boston Leadership Institute every summer since 2018. It is a three-week program that offers students across the United States (and to the foreigner before COVID-19 pandemic) immersive courses that cover multidimensional aspects of veterinary medicine, including how to detect pain through physical exams and how to analyze imaging from X-rays, MRIs and CT scans .

“I worked with a surgeon from our hospital who coordinated the program for the first 2 years, and last year I took over as coordinator,” said Champagne. “I also coordinated a new one-week college program that the Boston Leadership Institute launched, but with a little less depth. I have found it really rewarding to be able to engage and work with students from across the country, educating them and maybe inspiring them to bring back some enthusiasm and interest to a specific area of ​​the world. animal medicine.

Champagne is currently applying to upgrade to Level 4 Veterinary Technician through BluePearl’s career path platform, CareerTrax. CareerTrax is the industry’s largest electronic career development platform, supporting a unique leveling and compensation structure. Champagne is also applying for its VTS (Veterinary Technician Specialty) certification in Anesthesia and Analgesia, with the hope of achieving this goal by 2022.

Beyond these goals, Champagne wishes to continue fostering a relationship between BluePearl and other clinics, hospitals, local farms for students to participate in cooperation opportunities during their final year. A specific long-term goal is to help develop an on-site clinic, staffed primarily by students, on the Minuteman High School campus, which provides general medicine care to community pet owners at low cost. cost.

“The Minuteman program is primarily capable of working with small animals, but hopefully it can grow using large animals and potentially exotic, marine or wild animals,” said Champagne. “As for me, personally, I really enjoy being a source of support for new colleagues who are learning the ropes of our hospital and who may need help with tinkering; things that are not necessarily “technological” issues.

Champagne summed it up by demonstrating its fundamental values ​​and its passion for the profession. “I believe that supporting each other helps us do our best every day and it elevates the level of medicine we practice. I am just passing on the ideas and encouragement that was given to me when I started in the field, because I know I am only as competent as I am today thanks to those who have taught me.

Learn more about Champagne

Laura Champagne, CVT, BS (Veterinary Technology), BA, is a Level III Surgical and Anesthesia Veterinary Technician at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in Waltham, MA. She is also Acting Secretary of the North American Veterinary Anesthesia Society (NAVAS) and serves on the New Curriculum Development Board of the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School. She is also an instructor for the Boston Leadership Institute – Veterinary Medicine Track and a member of MVTA, NAVTA.

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