Wellington's Natacha Richards secures animal lover's dream job

Animal Lover: Natacha Richards working with Dr Hennie Strydom during her time on work placement at the Wellington Vet Clinic.  Photo: Elouise Hawkey
Animal Lover: Natacha Richards working with Dr Hennie Strydom during her time on work placement at the Wellington Vet Clinic. Photo: Elouise Hawkey

A die-hard animal lover, Natacha Richards has always wanted to work with animals, but was never sure how to find her way to her preferred career.  

Ms Richards has now relased her dreams by becoming a fully qualified Veterinary Nurse after completing a number of courses through TAFE NSW. 

“People would always say that I should work with animals and when I was at school there was no clear direction to any animal profession. It wasn’t until later in my working life that I looked at becoming a zoo keeper,” Ms Richards said. 

“I was working as a casual at the zoo in Dubbo and when you work with animals, you always want to make sure you’re improving your skills and your abilities and your knowledge. Animal welfare is really important to me, I think we’ve got to be the voice for these creatures that can't speak up for themselves.”

“I decided to study a number of courses at TAFE NSW including a Certificate II in Animal Studies and a Certificate III in Captive Animals whilst volunteering at zoos and I felt that a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing would be the next step in my career development,” Ms Richards said. 

Natacha completed her studies through the TAFE in Orange after enrolling in Dubbo, through a blended delivery program that allowed her to learn skills online and then travelling to the campus once a month to hone her skills in her classes. 

“It was a little bit difficult, but they put so many resources online, so I had the theory already and I was able to put it into practice.”

“Because I was doing a TAFE course, I needed to do a placement to get the practical skills. So I did two days a week at the clinic here in Wellington.”

Following the completion of her course, Natacha was able to secure a position as a Veterinary nurse at the clinic where she’d completed her work placement. 

“I love being able to assist Vets to find the cause of their patients presenting symptoms and to see the animals leave the clinic happy and healthy or at least well looked after,” Ms Richards said. 

“Being in a rural area, if an animal exists, we’ve probably had it in.”

As Wellington’s self-proclaimed biggest animal lover, Natacha finds the work to be it’s own reward.

“You get so many highs with animals, they come in and they’re sick and then you get to see them get better and send them home.  People always think we’re cuddling cute puppies and kittens all day, but it’s not just about that, that’s just one of the bonuses, We clean teeth, we get to help with vaccinations and procedures and all manner of things. 

TAFE NSW’s Animal Studies Teacher Michelle Bond credited Natacha as an incredibly dedicated student who’d excelled during her study.

“Natacha is the perfect example of students coming to TAFE NSW to get the hands-on skills and experience to be in a job they love,” Ms Bond said. 

A spokesperson from TAFE NSW said that now is an ideal time for those looking to study the veterinary sciences as opportunities in the industry are expected to grow over the next five years. 

“According to Australian statistics, there will be more than 7,000 new job opportunities for Veterinarians in NSW over the next three years. TAFE NSW research also reveals that out of the animal attendant and trainers sector, the Veterinary Nurse occupation will receive the largest employment growth until 2022, with almost 100 additional workers needed for this role in NSW.”