The role of the veterinary technician is only going to get stronger over the years and many rural veterinary clinics will soon realise the importance of having a great technician team and the value they can add to their business. This is what Canterbury rural veterinary technician Kate O'Connell will tell you if you ask her about her view of the sector she is passionate about.
Growing up on a sheep & cropping farm near Methven Kate has always had a passion for agriculture.For the last 5 years Kate has been a valuable member to the team at Selwyn Rakaia Vets based in Dunsandel.
Kate currently runs a team of eight technicians which she admits can be very full on at times but seeing each one of them learn new skills and progress in their careers is something she describes as very rewarding feeling!
A firm believer of there being no “I” in “TEAM”, Kate believes one of the main things that gets them through some days when things just aren’t going right is the great teamwork. She says the team is made up of a group of like minded rural vet techs who all get on well.
Kate completed a Certificate in Veterinary Nursing at Christchurch Polytechnic in 2006 before she worked for a mixed practice in Methven for 3 years. During her time in Methven she was able to complete a Certificate in Rural Animal Technology before heading overseas for her big OE! She spent 6 months in the USA teaching horse riding at a summer camp and then on to the UK where she worked as a vet nurse at the RSPCA in London for 2 years.
Kates current role has progressed a lot since she first her certificate 10 years ago. As products and technology continue to increase pressures for practices to become more efficient and structured differently have started to emerge. Kate says vet techs add a whole different dimension to veterinary work and having highly trained tech staff enables the veterinarians to spend more time both clinically and in consultation with clients, adding value to their businesses.
Kate says as part of the role she is now involved in many aspects of the veterinary industry including test sealing and assisting with reproduction programmes during mating time. But it doesn't stop there Kate is exposed to everything from body condition scoring cows, debudding calves, Leptosporosis vaccination, youngstock programmes & recording for pregnancy testing of cows!
No day is ever the same if you are Kate O'Connell, she says you just never know what is going to walk in the door or what call will be rung into the office. She loves interacting with farmers and assisting them on the day to day running of their business. She also believes that farmers now see techs as a crucial and valuable part of their veterinary service and we would have to agree.
Living in Darfield Kate still tries to get home to the family farm in Methven as much as she can to help out over harvest time or at lambing time.She has managed to have 10 continuous ewes on loan from her Dad on her 1.4ha block in Darfield that she shares with husband Simon. She says it helps keep her feeling like a sheep farmer!
In her spare time Kate enjoys getting outdoors and playing a variety of sports including touch rugby, football and riding horses. Living so close to the mountains she grew up skiing and has a love for going for a hike into the hills. Together with encouragement from her sister in-law she has successfully completed the 6hr Spring Challenge twice now. She says it was a great feeling to accomplish an adventure race and would recommended anyone wanting to do it to... "just back yourself and go for it!" Kate has also been roped into helping her sister in law with showing her Angus & Shorthorn stud and now thoroughly enjoys attending the Canterbury A & P Show with the team each year and assisting with parading the stock.
Kate your passion for your job is obvious and you stand out as a born leader. The vet techs you work alongside are lucky to have such a hard working AgWoman to look up to. Keep up the great work and we wish you all the best!