Today’s Veterinary Nurse (TVN) and Midmark honor Windi Wojdak, RVT, as the 2022 Clinic Champion of the Year for her tireless work in animal welfare, expanding access to care in underserved communities, and advancement of the veterinary nursing profession. This distinction serves as the culmination of the inaugural Clinic Champions program, with Wojdak being selected among four deserving finalists.
As Clinic Champion of the Year, Wojdak, who is the senior director of the California-based Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS), received a prize from Midmark designed to help her team improve their delivery of veterinary care.
“This is such a great opportunity to share some of my experiences and to highlight the work that the RAVS team and so many other incredible individuals and organizations are doing to expand access to veterinary care in communities everywhere,” said Wojdak. “As veterinary professionals, we have a unique opportunity to impact the lives of animals and people. I hope others might see something in these stories that sparks an interest or inspire them to get involved in new or different ways.”
RAVS, a program under The Humane Society of the United States, offers veterinary care to Native communities in the western United States through its mobile clinics. RAVS has developed relationships with many communities throughout the years, including partners in Arizona, the Dakotas, and Washington, where geographic isolation and financial barriers make accessing veterinary care difficult for many community members. RAVS sets up temporary veterinary clinics, where students, staff, and professional volunteers band together for a week or two to deliver essential care to hundreds of patients. Volunteer veterinary professionals gain essential experience and veterinary nurses are able to utilize their full training.
“Through her work with RAVS, Windi sets an example for expanding access to veterinary care and effectively empowering veterinary nurses,” said Andy Zunz, vice president of media strategy at the NAVC. “We are thrilled to honor Windi as our first Clinic Champion of the Year and hope that her story inspires others in the veterinary community to take similar action.”
The Clinic Champions program, sponsored by Midmark, was developed to shine a light on the veterinary nurses/technicians who make a positive impact on their clients, patients, coworkers, and greater community every day. These stories are common in the veterinary community, but are often overlooked. TVN honors a veterinary nurse/technician in each issue for their contributions in community service, scholarship, advocacy, or innovation.
“Midmark has been honored to sponsor the Clinic Champions series. Witnessing the care and commitment of each of the nominees is truly inspirational,” said Crissy Treon, downstream marketing director at Midmark Animal Health. “Their stories, and the stories of many other veterinary technicians and nurses, fuel our passion for ensuring that patients receive the best possible care.”
The Clinic Champions program is part of the NAVC’s Veterinary Nurse/Technician Empowerment Initiative, which aims to elevate and advance veterinary nurses and credentialed technicians. This initiative encompasses a wide range of programs that offer new resources and tools for veterinary nurses/technicians, encourage the next generation of these veterinary professionals and bring together leaders from across the veterinary industry to address the challenges facing the veterinary nurse/technician profession.
Meet the 2022 Clinic Champion Finalists
Cholette works with Seattle Veterinary Outreach (SVO), an organization that connects Seattle’s underserved communities—including those experiencing homelessness—with health care, mental health resources, and social services and provides free veterinary services for their pets. They do so by deploying mobile clinics and seeing patients in different areas of need throughout the greater metropolitan area. She has also volunteered and worked as a responder for the ASPCA and has volunteered at spay/neuter clinics internationally.
Pam has spent decades contributing to different animal welfare causes. She now travels for spay/neuter clinics as part of Animal Balance and continues a local pet therapy program at hospitals in the Tampa Bay area. This program allows her to bring dogs into medical facilities to brighten the day of patients and healthcare workers. Professionally, she works shifts at a local clinic and works for Purina at trade shows. Pam’s love for animals spills into her personal life; she and her husband have 19 rescued dogs.
As senior director of Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS), Windi plays a key role in organizing temporary, large-scale veterinary clinics in Native communities in the western United States, which have barriers to regular veterinary care due to their location. Windi places a special emphasis on veterinary nurse utilization and education during these clinics, allowing volunteers and staff to see first-hand how veterinary care can be provided when using veterinary nurses to their full potential. She also has a long history working in shelter medicine and various animal welfare causes.
As an instructor at Foothill College, Shaelyn is on the frontlines of training and preparing future veterinary technicians and assistants for the field. Shaelyn prioritizes personal wellness and improving the profession as a whole, hoping to make it a better place for veterinary nurses to thrive and grow in their careers. She also has a focus on mentorship and DE&I, serving as an example for students or aspiring veterinary nurses of color who do not have many professional role models who can relate with their experience. St. Onge-Cole also serves on the board of the Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association and founded veterinary assisting programs at an alternative high school and correctional facility in California, providing a path into veterinary medicine for many people who have never had this option before.