Q & A with Cathy Doucette
We caught up with Cathy Doucette, CVT, in our latest Q & A session to get her thoughts on the veterinary industry and the transition to becoming a VetCor hospital. She has been a technician since 1998, and Head Technician at Kingston Animal Hospital in MA since 2006.
How did you know that being a vet tech was the right job for you?
I have always had a love for animals. Growing up, we basically lived on a mini farm with chickens, rabbits, pigs, ducks, geese, cats, and dogs. But my passion for science and problem solving also played a huge part in my decision to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. I'd be a forensic scientist in another life because I love solving mysteries so much!
What kinds of changes have you noticed in the veterinary industry over the years?
Two things come to mind: the wonderful advances in pain management for pets, and the progression of the veterinary technology career as a respected profession.
Tell us about your practice.
We are a small animal and exotics practice on the South Shore of Massachusetts that has been open since 1947. VetCor purchased Kingston Animal Hospital in November 2015.
What was that change like for the practice?
Most of the staff at Kingston Animal Hospital had been working here for 10+ years, so things had gotten a little stale. VetCor came in with a new set of eyes and added some structure for us. We are working much more efficiently now. They also plan to provide facility improvements later this year!
How has being a part of VetCor been for you?
I have a big interest in management, and after we became a VetCor hospital, I’ve been given more opportunities to explore this side of the business. I even plan on spending some time helping out in the main office one day a week soon.
Doing the Right Thing
Amber Hansen is Practice Support Coordinator at VetCor and proud mama of Ted, a 3-year-old Siberian cat who is incredibly social, loves having his teeth brushed, and is trained to fetch, sit, stay, lay down and high five.
Like most, if not all of the people at VetCor, I was "bitten by the animal bug" at a very early age. I initially aspired to be a marine biologist, until I found out that you actually get little to no interaction with the animals in that field.
As I struggled with deciding on a career path, I also considered technology because it runs in the family. My late grandfather was a key person in the history of the personal computer. He designed Intel's first product and the world's first 64-bit SRAM memory chip in 1969. However, I wanted to stick with my love for animals, so I pursued veterinary medicine.
I now have over 12 years of veterinary industry experience. Beyond the obvious passion for animal care, I have also enjoyed watching the industry grow, in part due to the emergence of the "Human-Animal Bond," and advances in biotechnology that have amplified our knowledge, testing, and treatment options.
I started out as a Veterinary Technician and worked in private clinics for seven years. Early on, I felt quite content with the idea of being a technician forever and didn't have the desire to become a veterinarian. A few years later, I became a Certified Veterinary Technician, and shortly after got engaged, moved, my commute became a disaster, and I was burnt out. I figured that if I was going to look for a new job, I should move on to something else. VetCor ended up being the perfect fit – I could stay in the industry I loved, but do something a little different.
Welcome and Congrats To Our New Team Members
As our network of exceptional practices grows, our team of great people who support them is growing, too!
It is our pleasure to welcome two new Acquisition Managers, Bryan Brackett and Tracy Reed, and two new Regional Managers, Ryan Jackson and Dan Monforton, to the VetCor family.
They all join us with an impressive array of veterinary industry experiences, including roles ranging from Veterinary Technician at a private practice, to Director of Sales at Pet Health Network, to General Manager at multiple VetCor hospitals, and more.
Congratulations are also in order for a few team members who are advancing their careers at VetCor and taking on new roles to better serve our practices.
An Insider's Perspective by Sean Sornsin
Sean Sornsin is a Vice President of Operations at VetCor. He has been in the veterinary field for 13 years and has held titles ranging from Technician, to Practice Manager, to Field Trainer, Field Director, and even Consultant.
In February of 2016, we partnered with our first practice in Kentucky, Elk Creek Animal Hospital. It is a beautiful facility in suburban Louisville, filled with a dynamic, energetic and loyal staff. Elk Creek has been a labor of love for owners Dr. Alex Shelly and his wife Jessica since they started it in 2004 and built it from the ground up – literally. Jessica told me that her kids, as youngsters, slept in chairs as the Shelly’s built the place and the additions over the years. It’s a place their entire family very has memorable shared experiences, and where the kids grew up.
As a Regional Manager at VetCor, I’ve been a part of over 20 site visits and closings for new partnerships. When I sat down with Jessica after arriving for their site visit, I asked the normal questions, “How’s everyone doing with the news? How’s the team?” Her response made me chuckle, “My team is great,” she said. “They are excited. My kids are the ones that are worried.”
Jessica explained to me that her three sons had been getting dropped off by the school bus every day at the hospital. Upon hearing that Mom and Dad were selling it to someone else, they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to be dropped off after school like they always had been. Coming to the Elk Creek Animal Hospital was a huge part of their day. It meant getting the chance to see the staff and pets, to be around Mom and Dad, eat any leftover treats from the break room, and just mingle around the Elk Creek family. It was like their second home.
Kaity Blackburn: Animal Lover, Science Junkie and VetCor Acquisition Manager
This picture shows me with one of the first animals I remember interacting with as a kid – a Dalmatian named Breezeway who lived next door. I’m happy to confirm that Breezeway chewed those sticks I fed him thoroughly, with no foreign body surgery needed!
I’m very lucky to have a family that supported my natural curiosity from a young age and exposed me to the kindness and companionship that everyone in the veterinary world knows our pets provide. Special shout out to my Mom for all the Saturdays walking rescue dogs at our local animal shelter together, and to my Dad for teaching me the science and art of aquarium set ups!
Fast forward to adulthood, and my interest in animals and science never waned. I graduated from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada where I combined studying animal biology and business and worked in research at Ontario Veterinary College in the pathobiology department. Later, while volunteering at the Toronto Humane Society, a former TNR (trap, neuter, release) cat with a laid back attitude adopted me as his owner and now enjoys a spoiled life indoors.
When the time came to transition back to the United States after being on an extended work permit at a marketing business, I narrowed my job search to animal-related industries. The folks at VetCor and I decided we were a great fit for each other, and everyone I met through the process was very helpful and engaged as I navigated moving home to the Midwest. I have felt welcomed with open arms (and paws!) to this special organization from the start.
The Best of Both Worlds
A Look into the Life of Melanie Meyer, Hospital Manager at East Town Veterinary Clinic
If I were to tell you one thing about myself it would be that I love people, even the difficult ones. I always silently chuckle when I interview someone for a position at our practice and they say they were drawn to the position because they would rather work with animals than people. It's rare we see a Golden Retriever walk in unsupervised, so good thing for me I love both people and pets!
I have been the hospital manager at East Towne Veterinary Clinic in Mequon, WI and a part of VetCor since 2006. Previously I owned a small family business, which can be tough. I ultimately wanted to use my strengths on something I was more passionate about while still being able to do some of the things I love, like building client relationships, creating social media and marketing initiatives, and helping to solve problems to make people’s lives better. I am so thankful I found what I was looking for, and more.
I have built many great friendships at East Towne Veterinary Clinic, some I know will last a lifetime. The way my team shares the workload always brings a smile to my face. Everyone is willing to pitch in, no one is too good to scoop the poop or pick up a phone call. Our three clinic cats Otis, Tonto and Tate (aka Tater Tot) always add an element of sass, cuteness, and adventure to our days.
I have a special interest in marketing and social media. I’ve really enjoyed being able to share the things I’ve learned with other Hospital Managers and having the freedom to collaborate with them and engage with the many other talented professionals within our family of hospitals.
VetCor Adds Three New Recruiters to the Team
We are thrilled to introduce our three new VetCor Talent Recruiters - Carol Seiler, Jess Bird, and Lindsay O'Grady who along with Lauren Owens, form our growing recruiting team to better serve the needs of our hospitals.
Carol has been with us since Mountain Shadow Veterinary Hospital in Schuylkill Haven, PA, joined VetCor in 2000. She went on to become a VetCor Regional Trainer for Pennsylvania and New Jersey practices, and four years ago she became a Regional Manager for those regions.Carol’s outgoing and approachable personality makes her a natural fit for our Talent Recruiting team. FUN FACTS:
Carol has been with us since Mountain Shadow Veterinary Hospital in Schuylkill Haven, PA, joined VetCor in 2000. She went on to become a VetCor Regional Trainer for Pennsylvania and New Jersey practices, and four years ago she became a Regional Manager for those regions.Carol’s outgoing and approachable personality makes her a natural fit for our Talent Recruiting team.
Jess has been a technician since 1999. She began her career with VetCor as Hospital Manager at Barnstable Animal Hospital in Hyannis, MA. Prior to VetCor, her career also included being the surgical floor Supervisor/Department Head at a 24-hour emergency specialty hospital, and managing recruiting and HR for 5 practices in Cape Cod, MA. We are happy to have her friendly character and HR experience as part of our Talent Recruiting team. FUN FACTS:
Jess has been a technician since 1999. She began her career with VetCor as Hospital Manager at Barnstable Animal Hospital in Hyannis, MA. Prior to VetCor, her career also included being the surgical floor Supervisor/Department Head at a 24-hour emergency specialty hospital, and managing recruiting and HR for 5 practices in Cape Cod, MA. We are happy to have her friendly character and HR experience as part of our Talent Recruiting team.
For the past four years, Lauren Owens has been the sole Talent Recruiter for VetCor. She has built an incredible foundation for the VetCor Talent Recruiting team, and we look forward to seeing her, Carol, Lindsay and Jessica continue to build strong relationships with key veterinary schools, grow our externship programs, and assist each VetCor practice with all of their recruiting needs.
Lindsay started with VetCor as a Hospital Manager at Brackett Street Veterinary Clinic in Portland, ME in 2011. Before that, she was a specialty tech at MSPCA-Angell in Boston, MA, and a Surgery/ECC tech at the same Cape Cod emergency hospital as Jess. Over the years, Lindsay has worn many hats at VetCor, including Regional Manager, Acquisitions Manager, and she has also worked on special practice development projects that tie a lot of those departments together. Lindsay’s natural networking skills and great relationships with our existing hospitals makes her the perfect addition to the Talent Recruiting Team.
Life's a Beach
Hi Everyone! My name is Jennifer Zilinski and I am an associate veterinarian at Falmouth Animal Hospital in Falmouth, MA. I graduated from Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 2008, and did my internship at New England Animal Medical Center before migrating down to Cape Cod’s wonderful beaches 6 years ago when I came to work for VetCor.
I really like working for VetCor because you get all of the benefits of a big company – management support, a network of colleagues from which to bounce off ideas, and opportunities for mobility – but we are still able to practice the kind of progressive medicine that we believe in. There are no scripts to follow, and we can integrate changes easily as veterinary medicine evolves. I strongly believe in practicing the best medicine I can, and VetCor allows me to do that.
One of my favorite parts of coming to work is puppy kisses! It never gets old. I also truly cherish the long-term relationships I get to create with clients and their pets in general practice. We have the best staff at this hospital (not that I am biased or anything…) and I really do feel like we are one big family. We try to do several social events during the year outside of the office to keep the bonds strong. Our next adventure is trying to book a sunset cruise out of Hyannis this fall. I can’t wait for that one!
Red Sox, Ruminants and Rhode Island
Anna Portnoy, DVM, is Chief of Staff at Riverside Animal Hospital in Rhode Island.
In 1999 as I was turning 40, I decided to change my life and go to veterinary school.
Once I made the decision to go to vet school, I went straight to night school (I had never taken a pre-vet science class before) and got a job as a technician in a friend’s animal hospital. My wife Sis and I sold our business and house and moved to Canada. I graduated from the Atlantic Veterinary College at University of Prince Edward Island in 2007, and then moved back home to New England (I missed my family and of course, the Red Sox).
I have been with VetCor since September of 2012, first as an associate veterinarian and now as Chief of Staff at Riverside Animal Hospital in Rhode Island. I have always felt very supported by VetCor. Having spent most of my adult life reinventing myself, it was a huge relief knowing that the people I was working with were supporting me and helping me to reach my goal.
Last year, I attended the Chi institute to start my certification program in veterinary acupuncture. VetCor supported me during the program and connected me with another Chief of Staff within the network, Dr. Mark Russo of Kingston Animal Hospital, who became my friend and mentor throughout the certification program and beyond. It has been a very gratifying experience and I love seeing the wonderful results with my patients using that treatment.
I have had many different careers, but I am lucky to say that I love the one I have now. With the exception of a few days (don’t we all have them?), I love coming to work. I work with a great team, interesting clients and patients, and there is always something new every day. Riverside Animal Hospital is mostly small animals, but we do see a fair amount of goats, sheep and cattle. Some of the most interesting things I’ve had to do on the job include treating a sheep with a broken leg, and performing ruminant c-sections.
Q & A with Karen Laurinas
We spoke with Regional Manager Karen Laurinas from St. John, IN to get the scoop on her career, life at VetCor, and the really important choices she makes in everyday life (like Pepsi or Coke).
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I graduated from Purdue University in 2003. I have a dual degree in Marketing and Business Management with an emphasis in Human Resources.
What inspired you to get into the veterinary industry? I was intrigued by the opportunity to pair my love for animals with my love for management. I enjoy working with pets and people.
What’s your favorite part of coming to work every day? My favorite part has to be the team atmosphere. Everyone has a strong desire to put their all into their job, and it creates a wonderful environment for everyone.
How did you come to join VetCor? I was the Hospital Manager at a practice purchased by VetCor in May 2013. After several months, I found myself assisting other hospitals in our region that didn’t have a manager in place. I did this for a few years before being promoted to Regional Trainer in October 2015, and then ultimately promoted to Regional Manager at the end of 2015. VetCor has given me the opportunity to expand my role and meet many new people. The team approach that VetCor employs innately makes me feel great pride. I truly feel like part of a family!
Meet Dr. Tania Germann
My name is Tania Germann, and I have been a small animal veterinarian since 2009. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been very intrigued by the art of medicine and the fact that we can help sick animals. I volunteered at a small animal hospital in high school, and it was all history from there!
I am originally from Hawaii, received my undergraduate degree at Colorado State University, and then I obtained my DVM degree from the Veterinary School of Budapest in Hungary. It was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed the international education I received. There, I was able to see a lot of interesting diseases that we (thankfully) do not see in the United States.
I have been with VetCor since 2013, and it has been a very positive and rewarding experience. They have been the only corporation I have ever worked for, but it has never felt like a “corporate experience.” It is more like a big family who always has your back and is always available for assistance in any moment of a crisis. I first joined VetCor as an Associate Veterinarian at Ashburn Village Animal Hospital, and then accepted the Chief of Staff (COS) position. I accepted the COS position knowing that I would definitely receive the guidance and support that I needed for the VetCor team.
A Farewell Message from Intern Zach
Hey there everybody. I’m back again on the VetCor blog, but this time bearing some bad news. My time as an intern at VetCor’s home office has officially come to an end.
Where has the summer gone? It feels like just yesterday I was strolling into my first day at the office, and now today is my last as the Marketing Intern. These past three months with VetCor have been an awesome experience for me, and one I will truly miss while sitting in class listening to professors read off PowerPoint slides. Except for the postcard reminders – I may not miss tearing those.
The marketing team provided me with a good mix of work, so I never found myself getting bored at my desk. As I touched on before (link), I spent a good chunk of time updating and adding content to all of our practices’ websites to improve their visibility on Google and enhance the user’s experience. Along with that, I have created social media calendars, updated Yelp, Facebook, and other online profiles, and familiarized myself with Google Analytics.
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Believe it or not, I grew up in Odessa, Texas on an exotic animal rescue/private zoo. We had more animals than anyone I’ve ever known. They ranged from basic barnyard animals to African lions. As you can imagine, this is what inspired me to work with animals for the rest of my life. (Thanks, Dad!) I graduated from Permian High School in 1999, which people get totally excited about because it is THE high school from the book and movie, Friday Night Lights. I then eventually made my way to Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and completed my rotational year at the University of Minnesota.
I started working for VetCor at North Austin Animal Hospital immediately after graduating veterinary school in June 2012 as an associate veterinarian. It was the best decision I have ever made. NAAH was the only VetCor practice in Texas when I was hired, and I was extremely excited to meet so many likeminded people within the company ranging from regional managers to people that had titles such as CEO and COO.
Donuts & Deep Thoughts from a VetCor Intern
Hello, everyone. For those who don’t know me, my name is Zachary Darsch. I will be a senior at Suffolk University in Boston, MA this fall, and am currently a Marketing Intern here at the VetCor home office for the summer.
So far, my time in the position has been very enjoyable. I am keeping busy with a variety of projects and have felt very welcomed by the great people around the office. I have learned many things so far, some expected and some unexpected.
First off, I have learned that it’s hard to maintain a diet during the office birthday season with all the cake, ice cream, donuts, brownies – you name it – being consumed almost every week (although I’m not complaining). In order to counteract these sweets, I have joined the office Wellness Walks to get some fresh air, stretch my legs, and debrief on everyone’s favorite show Game of Thrones.