Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Animal Health Technology grad lands job at integrated health clinic

Kate Burkmar examines a three-legged patient during her student days at Douglas. David Denofreo photo
Love animals? Thinking you might like a career working with them? Then read on: Kate Burkmar, a recent grad of the Animal Health Technology (AHT) program at Douglas, talks about her education, her new dream job and her initial qualms about working with critters.


Registered Animal Health Technologist at Mosquito Creek Veterinary Hospital, which uses an integrated approach combining western medicine with Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat patients.

Pet situation

Two dogs and a cat

Doing what she loves

“I’d always wanted to work with animals, but went in a different direction when I finished high school because I thought I’d have too much of an emotional connection to work with animals. Then I adopted two dogs and ended up doing a lot of volunteer work for the organization I got them from. The volunteer work included in-field clinics in communities with no access to veterinary care. I totally loved it and thought, ‘you know, this is what I should be doing with my life.’”

A ‘typical’ day at work

“It’s so dynamic, and every day is different. I could be doing dentistry, radiology, anesthesia, laboratory procedures, nursing care and client education all in one day. Every hour of the day I am doing something different, which is something I love about my job.”

Western vs. traditional medicine

“There is a time and a place for every kind of modality in medicine. That’s something I really believe in. You have to look at the patient and what’s going on to determine the best treatment for the animal.”

Acupuncture for dogs and cats?!

“Once the needles are in, a lot of the time they relax and start sleeping. My own dog just lies right down and has a snooze for 15 minutes. Then we end up having to wake him up when the needles are removed! The hospital also has a therapeutic laser that can be used on acupuncture points, so if a patient is stressed by the needles, we can use the laser instead, which is a much quicker process.”

Why Douglas?

“I heard Douglas had an AHT program and I liked the idea that it was in the Lower Mainland, that the program was new and staffed with people who were really energized and excited about sharing their knowledge and expertise.”

Douglas cares

“I think one of the biggest strengths of the AHT program is the commitment and dedication of the faculty. You can have all the fancy toys you want, but if there isn’t the commitment and dedication from the staff, then I don’t think the program would succeed in the way it does. I remember feeling so cared for at Douglas. The veterinarians and technicians put so much effort into making sure students understood and that we were comfortable with what we were doing. I think that’s so important to the success of an individual in this kind of program and field of work. The faculty truly went above and beyond on countless occasions.”

For more info on the Animal Health Technology program, visit our website. Or come to an info session Nov. 13 or Dec. 4 at our Coquitlam Campus.