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Meet Dedicated Mission Staff as they Return to Veterinary School this Fall

Mission Animal Hospital relies on our staff to ensure we can provide accessible veterinary care to thousands of pets each year. Our staff are often interested in becoming veterinarians, and their work at Mission gives them important experience in and exposure to the veterinary field. We regularly have staff members accepted into veterinary school, and we're lucky to have some of them continue their work with us during their time off from school! Meet some of our amazing staff members who are on their way to becoming veterinarians!



Erin Larsen


What degree are you working towards?

I am currently working toward a dual degree: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Masters of Business Administration (DVM/MBA)

I am also obtaining a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management


What school do you attend?

I currently attend Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine in Harrogate, Tennessee. I am a second year student (Class of 2026).


How did you decide what schools to apply to?

Prior to starting veterinary school, I completed my Masters of Science in Veterinary Biomedical Science at Lincoln Memorial University, so that had a large impact on my application to their vet school program. Besides that, one of the main criteria I looked at was cost of attendance and cost of living. We take on large debt loads while in school and I wanted to be sure I was setting myself up for the most financial success possible!


Why did you decide to become a veterinarian?

This is a tough question for me! In some ways, I think I have always known this is the career path that I wanted to follow, but it wasn't until I started volunteering in a clinic environment in middle school and saw the work that the veterinarian did, that solidified the decision in my mind. The moment I knew was when someone brought in a dog they had found in a storm drain. This dog was in rough shape, but the veterinary team did everything they could to nurse him back to health. He was very hesitant to trust people, but I got to spend time with him each day and earned his trust. I was the only person in the clinic that could get him to eat anything, so I fostered him until he was healthy enough to be adopted. Once his forever family was found, I got to hand him off to his new family. Since that day, I knew that nursing pets back to health was my calling!


What kinds of things do you do as a veterinary assistant at Mission?

I have had a unique experience as a veterinary assistant at Mission. I was initially hired as an assistant for the Advanced Surgery Practice (ASP), and worked there for almost a year. In that position, I helped with x-rays, scrubbed into surgery, cleaned and sterilized surgical instruments, and assisted with recheck appointments. Then, I cross-trained as an assistant for the general practice side of the hospital helping with daily appointments, urgent care visits, surgery, dentals, and technician appointments. As assistants, we help the technicians and veterinarians with restraint, vaccinations, surgery prep, client communication, x-rays, filling medications, and running lab work (just to name a few!).


How has working at Mission Animal Hospital changed your perspective of the veterinary field?

Mission Animal Hospital has altered my perspective of the veterinary field forever, and I am so grateful for that. The more immersed I become in the veterinary community the more I understand the importance of the spectrum of care approach to vet med. Being able to provide accessible and affordable vet care is something that I am extremely passionate about and something that I will continue to take with me throughout my career (ask anyone in my class and they can tell you that I get on my soapbox about this topic quite frequently!!!) It has not only helped shape my client communication, but has also given me a different perspective on how we can individualize and accommodate care for our patients in a way that meets clients where they are at and still provides a "gold standard" of care. I have seen the impact Mission has had on the community firsthand and I am so proud to be a part of a team that works so hard to provide quality care for our patients and clients!


How has being in veterinary school impacted your work here at Mission?

I think vet school has reinforced several of the things I have learned at Mission. I am able to come back on my school breaks and apply the information that I have learned from school, and it helps me solidify that information in my mind. It is one thing to read about the different conditions, circumstances, and diseases in a textbook, but it is an entirely different thing to be able to see it in person and apply what you know about it!


Did your work experience at Mission Animal Hospital help prepare you for veterinary school?

YES. Mission offers a wide variety of unique experiences that I have not been able to experience anywhere else. On top of that, the variety of cases that we see each day has allowed me to enter vet school with my eyes wide open. Not only can I use that knowledge and experience to become a better veterinarian myself, I am also able to share my experiences with others to better our field as a whole. I often find myself sitting in class thinking "I saw a similar case of that at Mission", which then helps me think through how the veterinarian worked through the case and I am now able to understand why they made the decisions they did. It is a very cool moment when everything comes full circle.


What is your favorite part of being a veterinary assistant?

My favorite part about being a veterinary assistant is being able to work alongside so many intelligent, hard working coworkers. They have challenged me, taught me, and helped me grow into the veterinary professional I am today and I wouldn't be where I am without them. Oh... and we get some pretty adorable patients too :)


Do you have a favorite Mission story or patient?

It is so hard to pick just one!!! I am a little biased to the pitties, beagles, and spicy kitties of the world, so the one that comes to my mind is a patient we had when I was working in ASP. He was a spicy kitty that needed a PU surgery (Perineal Urethrostomy). His surgery went very smoothly, but unfortunately his owner had an emergency and was unable to pick him up that night. Since it is a very delicate procedure, we wanted to be sure he could be observed overnight so he didn't get his cone off and lick at his incision site. After speaking with his owner, I offered to take him home to observe him overnight for observation. Good thing I did! He was a little spicy waking up from his anesthesia and ended up getting his cone off overnight, so getting that back on him was an exciting adventure. The next day he was reunited with his mom and recovered very well from surgery! Through that experience, I was able to learn every aspect of what we expect from our clients when we send our patients home.



Sari Hattis


What degree are you working towards?

DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine)

What school do you attend?

St. George's University in Grenada

How did you decide what schools to apply to?

I was a Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies and Spanish major, so even though I completed all of the basic pre-requisite courses to apply, some schools required additional courses I did not take, so that narrowed them down. Otherwise, I applied based on places that seemed to have fun things to do (other than studying lol) and affordable to live. Most veterinary schools are pretty expensive and financial aid (besides loans) are very difficult to get, so I also applied to schools I thought I actually had a chance of getting into.

Why did you decide to become a veterinarian?

My mom read me the James Herriot series (All Creatures Great and Small being the most popular) when I was in first or second grade, and from that moment I was pretty set on being a vet. My reasons for wanting to do so have changed and developed over the years as I mature, but I have kind of always known that is what I want to do.

What kinds of things do you do as a veterinary assistant at Mission?

A lot of client communication (taking histories, going over estimates, etc), patient restraint (and distraction--we go through a bunch of PB!) for exams and procedures, surgery prep/recovery, cleaning and restocking, and snuggling furry friends when there is time :) And a lot more but that covers the basics.

How has working at Mission Animal Hospital changed your perspective of the veterinary field?

It has solidified my want to go into community medicine once I graduate. I used to just want to be a veterinarian because 'people are gross' and I want to help all creatures great and small, but while those are still true, I really do enjoy helping people too. I think veterinary care should be a right, not a privilege, and see what an important role we have not only providing care for people's furriest family members, but educating and supporting our clients on making the best possible decisions they can for their pets.

How has being in veterinary school impacted your work here at Mission?

I am only going into my second year so I feel like I still know very little, but it is pretty cool working on my breaks and noticing I am slowly starting to understand what goes into triaging, diagnosing and treating patients! I can't wait to keep working on my breaks and growing/learning until I am a real (but baby) doctor!

Did your work experience at Mission Animal Hospital help prepare you for veterinary school?

OH YEAH. In addition to what I said above about solidifying the part of the field I want to go into, I think I would be a lost little fishy without any clinical experience. I was initially really upset I did not get into vet school the first time I applied, because I did not plan on taking a gap year, but honestly I think it was meant to happen because my gap years not only solidified I want to go into vet med, but helped me develop basic clinical skills and expose myself to various medical procedures and conditions.

What is your favorite part of being a veterinary assistant?

When my patient comes in very hesitant and afraid and I get them to trust me and maybe even give me some snuggles and kisses! And helping/supporting owners navigate stressful situations, I love when people let me know they appreciate the work we are doing :)

Do you have a favorite Mission story or patient?

Like a million of them...but I really love all my spanish-speaking clients and working through their pets' issues (or happy wellness visits!) with them. My Spanish is not the best, but I can tell folks really appreciate me taking the time to help translate, making their situation even a little less stressful makes my day everytime! (Also cats "angry eating" churu is my favorite thing in the world.)




Courtney Timmer


What degree are you working towards?

I am working towards my DVM degree


What school do you attend?

I am in the South Dakota State University and University of Minnesota 2+2 program, so I attended South Dakota State University for years 1 and 2, and I will be at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine for years 3 and 4.


How did you decide what schools to apply to?

I did not take the lab part of Organic Chemistry in undergrad, so that limited my options as most vet schools require that to qualify for application. I also really wanted to stay close to home as all of my family is in Minnesota. In-state tuition was also a nice perk of going to school at the U of M or SDSU/U of M.


Why did you decide to become a veterinarian?

I always knew I wanted to go into the medical field as I was fascinated with medicine. As I got older, I realized that I wanted to practice with animals instead of people. I think I was in high school when I decided on veterinary medicine. Being a veterinarian allows me to combine my passion for medicine and love for animals into a challenging and rewarding career.


What kinds of things do you do as a veterinary assistant at Mission?

Assistants at Mission room patients and take histories, restrain pets for exams and procedures, run lab tests, take x-rays, fill medications, discharge patients, and assist with surgery prep and monitoring before and after surgery. Higher level assistants can also administer vaccines and draw blood.


How has working at Mission Animal Hospital changed your perspective of the veterinary field?

Working in a clinic with such a wide variety of services, and being able to offer those services at a reduced rate, has shown me how valuable a place such as Mission can be to the community. It has also shown me how invested the veterinarians and staff are in the care and wellbeing of each and every patient that comes through the door.


How has being in veterinary school impacted your work here at Mission?

Being in vet school has helped to improve my technical skills at work. I am also able to better understand the different aspects of the cases I see, such as the pathophysiology, reasoning for diagnostics and treatments, etc. I find myself trying to think through cases from a doctor perspective.


Did your work experience at Mission Animal Hospital help prepare you for veterinary school?

Absolutely. The technical skills I learned working at Mission helped me in my Clinical Skills classes. Learning about medications and seeing what the doctors commonly prescribed them for helped me in my Pharmacology classes. Having experience with so many different presenting clinical signs and diseases/conditions helped me in classes such as Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, etc.


What is your favorite part of being a veterinary assistant?

The highlight of my day at work is having an owner tell me how thankful they are for what we do and that we were able to provide care to their pet.


Do you have a favorite Mission story or patient?

Not really.



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