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Are you thinking of taking short courses online with a view to becoming a vet assistant? Is there still a part of you that knows you love animals but is unsure about whether you're suited to this kind of work? Well, you've come to the right place. We're lucky enough to be talking to the highly experienced veterinarian and OCA mentor, Dr Mark Tenenbaum, as he offers some valuable insight.

Is Veterinarian A Good Career Choice? 

Absolutely, as steady growth is expected over the next 5 years, as it has been over the previous five, whether talking about veterinarians or vet assistants, the career outlook appears to be very promising. It's a well-paid field, too, as well as being incredibly rewarding, making vet and vet nurse jobs  an obvious choice for anyone who has a passion for the protection and welfare of animals.

Over to You, Dr Mark… 

So, let's waste no time getting into the good stuff. We'd like to ask many questions, but we'll begin with why Dr Mark joined the industry in the first place.

Mark, What Attracted You To Work As A Vet? 

I've always had an interest in learning "how things work", and this interest, combined with my love of animals, drew me towards veterinary medicine. A big part of being a veterinarian is problem-solving, which I find both challenging and fun! Working in a GP clinic also means that I get to deal with healthy puppies/kittens for check-ups and vaccinations, so that's always a lovely part of the job!

What's The Best Part Of Working With Animals?

The best part about working with animals as a veterinarian is we get to care for people's family members. More commonly, people view their dogs/cats as such and not just a pet. So as a veterinarian, we become an integral part of the patient's life.

When an unwell patient presents to us, and we can intervene, diagnose, and treat to achieve a good outcome, there is a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Being able to share this happiness with owners is a special feeling too!

…And The Most Challenging Part Of Working With Animals?

I think the most challenging part of the job is client/owner communication. When an animal is unwell, as veterinarians, we need to collect a thorough history from the owner, assess the patient (dog/cat) and then explain our thought process and recommendations in layman's terms.

Not only do we need to explain and justify our recommendations (i.e. diagnostics, treatments), but then we need to discuss the financial aspects. The financial part of the conversation can be really tricky, especially if the patient is not insured. In many circumstances, we need to adjust our recommendations based on the financial capacity of the owner. 

Euthanasia can also be a tough part of being a veterinarian, and we are not only caring for the patient but supporting the owners emotionally through the process. When the patient is old and critically unwell, there is a sense of mercy in euthanasia, which can help a family say goodbye. 

Is There A Part Of Working In Animal Care That Surprised You?

I think the largest surprise is the amount of time we spend dealing/speaking with people! Who knew that jobs with animals  like ours would be so human-focused? 

Of course, the patient is the animal in front of us, but the communication and decision-making have to go through the owner, so we do spend a lot of our day having these kinds of discussions.

What Advice Would You Offer Anyone Entering The Animal Health Industry?

If you can, undertaking volunteer work or placements either before or after your online studying is a great first step, just to get exposure to the role and build some animal-handling skills. Whatever you're aiming for (veterinarian, vet nurse jobs, trainer, groomer, zoo-keeper, welfare officer, government roles, etc.), exposure to these industries will be invaluable. 

Also, finding a mentor or someone you can discuss your career pathway can also be extremely helpful! Sometimes discussing career options with another person helps formulate your thoughts and decisions.

In addition to volunteering/placement, starting with animal care/health short courses will help build foundational knowledge. Whether this is an online and/or a hands-on course, it will get you started and likely guide your next steps. 

You're OCA's Animal Health Mentor. What's it like? 

I love the ability to help students along their journey. I have been in their position as a student at university, so I can empathize with them as I understand what they're going through.

With pet ownership increasing at a rapid rate (especially in Australia) and a shortage of veterinarians (and other animal health roles), being able to help fill the skills gap through online mentoring is exciting. It fills me with a sense of pride.

What Kind Of Support Do You Offer To Students As A Mentor? 

Primarily, I help students by providing advice and guidance throughout their animal healthcare learning journey. As a mentor through OCA, I am here to inspire people, with students able to contact me via email or phone to discuss the short courses  they're taking and their goals and career aspirations.  

Throughout OCA short courses, there are self-assessments, which are questions designed to help students reflect on their course content. As students undertake the self-assessments, they can reach out to me to discuss the questions and the course content. This also applies to the tests that need to be taken at various stages of their online studying.

Dr Mark J Tenenbaum


Founder of The Vet Society 

Want To Know More About Working With Animals?

As we can see, working in jobs with animals  is a hugely rewarding industry to get into, but as with every profession, it has its own unique set of challenges. Being aware of what you are likely to face when working in the sector for real is key to deciding whether vet or vet nurse jobs are for you…or not. We hope that our blog has provided some clarity for you in that regard.

If you'd like to know more about working with animals, why not check out our volunteering and Have You Got What it Takes to Be a Vet Nurse? blogs offer much more insight into vet nurse jobs and everything they entail.

Realise Your Animal Healthcare Career Ambitions With OCA

So, if you're eager to become an animal healthcare professional, the great news is that getting the skills and knowledge you need is affordable and accessible with OCA. Our CPD-Endorsed short courses  are video-based for easy digestion and modular, making arranging your online studying around your obligations simple and stress-free. 

This is no regular learning experience we offer; rather, it's a mentally stimulating and engaging one, something you can get a feel for by watching our Student Study Demo to get a feel for. What's more, our courses come with plenty of help via 1-to-1 mentoring and always-available tutorial support, so you'll always be able to get assistance if you get stuck.

To see our entire range of courses covering 20+ industries, visit us today at or get in touch by calling 1300 611 404 or emailing us at [email protected] if you have any questions you'd like to be answered prior to enrolment.

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