Meet RCTC Outstanding Educator Kim Rowley

Kim Rowley.

Kim Rowley.

Kim Rowley (DVM) was a veterinarian in private practice in Austin, Minn., for seven years prior to coming to (Rochester Community and Technical College).

During her time there, the associate veterinarian turned partner at the mixed animal practice, performing routine checkups and surgeries on anything from cats to cows.

Students from veterinarian tech and veterinary programs (even some vet tech students from RCTC) began showing up for internships.

“I kind of enjoyed having interns and teaching them, and decided I was going to apply to a couple of teaching jobs, and that’s how I came to RCTC,” Rowley explains.

She came to the College in the fall of 2005 as a full-time faculty member, teaching over the summer as well. She also does relief veterinary work in the summer, and serves as a veterinarian at Paws and Claws Humane Society.

“I still practice veterinary medicine, I just have my students with me when I’m doing things,” she says.

It’s quite the change from her old career.

Rowley worked every Saturday for seven years as a vet. She was also on call one day a week and one weekend a month, and worked holidays.

“Because people have problems with their cow calving on Christmas, you go there and deal with it,” she says with a laugh. “That was OK for me for many years because veterinary medicine was my life, but it kind of wore me down over time. And I also had a child and suddenly I was never around on any Saturdays. It was hard for my family.”

The transition to the classroom comes with a learning curve. Since Rowley has a higher-level degree than what she is teaching, she knows all of the material, but she did not realize how much prep goes into planning a classroom activity.

So early on, she probably spent just as many hours working on classroom activities – but on her schedule.

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She does miss clients and interactions with them, but now she has interactions with students.

Plus, she gets to see animals at the shelter and Humane Society in town.

Rowley, who grew up in a rural area, liked animals from an early age, but she also enjoyed the idea of medicine.

“I kind of think diagnosing patients is kind of like a little detective mystery work, because our patients can’t talk to us,” she says. “We have to be pretty good at doing physical exams and interpreting test results, because animals can’t tell us very much. I like the mystery; it’s different every day, presenting a new challenge.”

Side note: Rowley is squeamish when it comes to human blood.

“I don’t even like having my own blood drawn, but I can do some pretty advanced surgery on a dog. It’s kind of odd,” she laughs.

One such surgery, happened when there was an issue with a pregnant cow. The calf was able to get pulled out, but the farmer had ruptured the uterine artery.

“Through the backend of the cow, through the vulva, I had to go into the vagina and tie off that artery without seeing it. That was probably one of my most difficulty cases that I remember, and most unusual.”

That cow lived, but wasn’t able to bear calves anymore. As a dairy cow that wasn’t good, and she was eventually sold to market. It may be grim, but that’s life on the farm.

On a more upbeat note, Rowley also successfully worked on a lemur that cut itself.

As for the award, winning it is “shocking,” says Rowley. “I am honored and kind of humbled by the whole experience. I have been here for a few years now and I have seen a lot of wonderful coworkers receive that award before myself, and it’s just overwhelming for me to think that I’m in that same group. It’s surprising for me; it doesn’t seem quite right,” she laughs.

“Hopefully I’m making more of an impact on veterinary medicine as a person who teaches veterinary technicians than I ever did in private practice by myself. That’s my favorite part of it – that I’m part of a bigger picture, making a bigger difference.”

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