Return to Headlines

Tech Students Learn About Medical Research Positions Available After Graduation

January 21, 2022 - There are dozens of avenues to take for those who are interested in working with animals, such as marine biologist, pet groomer, military dog trainer, animal-assisted therapist, or veterinarian. On Jan. 12, Veterinary Assistant students at North and South Tech High Schools learned about another career pathway – caring for animals involved in research studies aimed at improving the understanding of diseases and developing new cures. Information about this field was presented by the Division of Comparative Medicine at Washington University.

“We really try to make it a point to work with as many business partners as we can to open the students' eyes to different options in the animal career field,” said South Tech Veterinary Assistant Teacher Erica Zengerling. “Wash-U’s animal research is probably not something that pops into people’s minds right away, so it’s been really great to work with the university and cultivate that relationship.”

The university is seeking job candidates for positions that support the care of research animals. Laboratory animal technician jobs involve washing and sanitizing cages, stocking food and other supplies for the animals, and documenting the animals’ care and feeding. Veterinary technician jobs (for persons with the proper training and certification), involve assisting the university’s veterinarians to provide veterinary medical care, clinical procedures, and disease prevention for research animals.

“Our goal is to have the students leave the Veterinary Assistant program with a broad skill set and knowledge,” said Zengerling. “Hopefully they’ll use that to decide what exactly their passion is in life and where they want to go with it.”

After one year of full-time employment, the university will also pay for employees’ undergraduate school tuition, up to seven credit hours per semester, which is a selling point for many senior students who will graduate in May. Senior Eric Ostron has always been interested in animals and says seeing the smiles they put on people’s faces makes him happy. He was undecided about where he wanted to work after high school but will now apply for the available positions at Wash U, hoping to benefit from the opportunities of advancement.

“I’m just grateful to have these partnerships and hope the students take advantage of it and know that they are lucky,” said Zengerling.

When COVID-19 is less widespread, the Veterinary Assistant instructors at North and South Tech would also like to partner with the university to create internship opportunities for students.