Dianne Odell: Bringing a Passion for Animals into the Classroom

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From the time Dianne Odell was a child, she wanted to work with animals. But rather than follow her passion to a professional life in veterinary medicine, she earned a degree in computer science and worked in medical research and development. She had a family to support. Once her children were grown and no longer relying on mom to support them, though, Dianne decided it was time she did something for herself. She became a kennel assistant at a local clinic and hasn’t looked back.

Working in Veterinary Medicine

Dianne Odell - Veterinary Assistant TeacherWorking at the clinic, Dianne learned how to assist the veterinarian and care for animals. She got to understand the ins and outs of the practice and the various roles within the organization. While she learned about animals and veterinary science, she also gained further insight into herself. Her passion for animals never wavered.

“I found that I preferred my interactions with animals more than the interaction with people,” says Dianne.

As Dianne continued gaining experience in veterinarian medicine, she was often called on to train new employees. She taught them how to properly handle animals and assist the vet, how to prepare exam rooms, and how to communicate with clients. Seen as a great mentor to her peers, Dianne wondered if there might be a way to help animals and people.

Veterinary Assistant Training in Fun & Creative Ways

In June 2022, Dianne joined Charter College’s Vancouver WA campus, where she shares her knowledge and experience with the aspiring Veterinary Assistants who enter her classroom. Her courses cover the business aspects of veterinary medicine, microbiology, vaccines, and the immune system. Dianne acknowledges that medical concepts can be difficult to understand at times, so she uses a unique, hands-on teaching style. She might conduct live demonstrations, use Play-Doh to model cells, or create Pictionary games to reinforce medical terminology. And to teach students how to care for small animals, she brings in animals. 

“I have students bring in their own pets,” says Dianne “and they use what they learn in class to take their pets’ vitals and conduct physical exams.”  

This approach makes learning fun and deeply personal and relevant for her students.

“It also brings the students together with team camaraderie and fun, and light-hearted competition,” she adds.

Getting to Know Veterinary Assistant Students

Dianne is glad to teach her students how to take care of the animals she loves, and she tries to customize her lessons to have the most impact. She also tries to get to know where her students come from and what their individual stories might be.

“I get to know my students,” says Dianne. “I get to know what it is that their dreams and their ambitions are.” 

Forming a personal connection with her students, Dianne is better able to tailor the learning experience to each student’s interests, whether it’s reptiles, larger animals, or even chickens. By building this bond and learning about her students, Dianne can also help steer students to the kind of externships where they will perform well.

Veterinary Assistant Externships

According to Dianne, because she knows her students so well, she can help them find and choose externships that are tailored to their interests.

“I’m able to make recommendations for clinics based on what they want,” Dianne explains.

And once those students are out on the job, she checks in on them. 

“After 80 hours into their externship, I go speak to the supervisors of their program, see where the student needs improvements and where they excel,” says Dianne. “Doing so helps students and also helps me improve my teaching.”

Dianne takes feedback from the clinics and directly from her students. She knows learning is a two-way street. Her students definitely learn from her. And she can learn from them. She also keeps in touch with past graduates and likes to hear about all the amazing work they do in their new clinical settings. 

“I love it when I have a student get hired at a clinic and I’m able to send a current student on externship there,” says Dianne. “They all have something that connects them, and it feels like a full lifecycle.”

As the Lead Veterinary Assistant Instructor, Dianne looks for ways to improve her own teaching and the overall program curriculum. Every year, she’s part of a call back meeting where past students, board members, and instructors discuss any changes that might be made to improve the Veterinary Assistant program.  

Are you as passionate about animals as Dianne Odell? Find out! Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more about the Certificate in Veterinary Assistant program.