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Dr. Jennifer Starkel Madison Animal Hospital & Grooming With AZPetVet Since 2005
"We're not competitive - we're cooperative. And that makes all the difference for our staff and our patients."

Dr. Jennifer Starkel

Madison Animal Hospital & Grooming With AZPetVet Since 2005

When did you know you wanted a career working with animals?

I've always wanted to be a vet. From the time I was about five years old, I just knew I wanted to help animals.

What's your favorite thing about working in the veterinary field?

Every single day is different. No patient or appointment is ever the same. It keeps me on my toes, and I'm never bored.

What do you feel makes AZPetVet different from other animal hospitals?

I think it's the support and structure. Just knowing that we can stay focused on the medical aspect of our hospital's service while the HR, marketing and other tasks are handled by our group office helps immensely. The support of all the other doctors in our network is outstanding. If I have a patient and need another opinion, I can fire off an email and within ten minutes five other doctors have weighed in. Having access to those other opinions helps build my confidence, every day, and it's the same for others. We're not competitive - we're cooperative. And that makes all the difference for our staff and our patients.

What's most important for new hires to know about working with AZPetVet?

The mentorship in our organization is amazing. When I first joined the AZPetVet family, I had the opportunity to rotate through several of the hospitals and get to know the team. The chances to see the different ways each doctor treats their patients and does surgeries helped me to understand there's more than one way to do things right. The chance to become an owner is also a huge benefit. We're expected to perform well, and our efforts are well rewarded.

What's at the top of your bucket list?

I'm living my bucket list at the moment—my life's dream has been to be a veterinarian and own my own practice. I've checked that off my list!

Join Our Family

At AZPetVet our team is our family, the heart and soul of our organization. From our veterinarians to technicians, groomers and staff, we treat everyone with the golden rule. With a network of 20 hospitals

and growing, we are always looking for Doctors and team members with the right set of core values to join our family!

Joshua Kane Veterinary Technician Westbrook Animal Hospital
Joshua Kane Veterinary Technician Westbrook Animal Hospital

When did you know that you wanted to work with animals?

I’ve had a passion for animals since I was little. I started working as a kennel technician when I was 16 years old, and now it’s almost 11 years spent working with animals. I started from the bottom and worked my way up the chain. I’ve been with Westbrook for nearly four years.

If you had a friend that wanted to work at Westbrook or with AZPetVet, what would you tell them?

I would say that’s it’s a big growth opportunity, especially if you want to be in this field and have a passion for it. If you have that passion, this is the right place to be if you want to move up and grow.

What’s your favorite thing about the team you work with, and working here in general?

My favorite thing about the team is everybody’s different personalities. We all have our ups and downs, but everybody gets along, which is really important. We know each other very well, so we are able to manage and work around any issues. As far as Westbrook in general, I fell in love with it when I first moved out here back in 2013. I’ve been with Westbrook ever since.

What keeps you excited about being part of the AZPetVet family?

For me, it’s the dedication to what I’m doing and the Westbrook culture. I look forward to coming to work every day and working with the people that I work with. I love the growth opportunities. Like everyone, I have my good days and bad days, but seeing the successful part of it all play out is special. I get to come in here every day, have personal conversations with clients and build long-term relationships. I’ve seen puppies from the beginning of their lives, all the way through to the end of their lives, which is very meaningful. Building those types of relationships with clients is my biggest joy.

Dr. Kelsey Bradley Goodyear Animal Hospital & Grooming With AZPetVet Since 2015
Dr. Kelsey Bradley Goodyear Animal Hospital & Grooming With AZPetVet Since 2015

When did you know you wanted a career working with animals?

I was just one of those kids who knew. I can recall being like, five years old, and wanting to be a veterinarian. I always had animals growing up - dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, a bearded dragon - I really loved the exotics. The fun "playing with puppies and kittens" part changed as I got older and began studying science and math. By high school, I was in a special careers program that allowed me to do shadow internships at local animal hospitals; so every day for a couple of hours, I was in a working environment, seeing veterinary medicine in practice.

Originally, I wanted to work in Zoo medicine, and that's how I came to Phoenix. During my 4th year of vet school, I got a month long internship with the Phoenix Zoo. While doing my clinical rotations, I started working with a lot of dogs and cats and their owners and decided I wanted to go into private practice, and here I am. So while I primarily see lots of cats and dogs, I still have a special affinity for exotic animals, so I'll see lizards, snakes, rabbits, and so on - everything except for birds.

What's your favorite thing about working in the veterinary field?

Definitely, the interaction with people and their animals. Even though we see similar things every day, it's always different. Sometimes it's really wonderful, like when we can help make an animal well, and other times it can be really hard. But we're all in it together.

What do you feel makes AZPetVet different from other animal hospitals?

There are SO many resources that are available in our group - it allows us to have opportunities that someone working in a small, single practice doesn't get. On a more selfish note, it's so much easier to tailor shifts or to find someone to cover for a special event. Everybody supports each other - it's awesome!

Lisa Johnsen Veterinary Technician Goodyear Animal Hospital & Grooming
Lisa Johnsen Veterinary Technician Goodyear Animal Hospital & Grooming

What has influenced you to join and stay with the AZPetVet family? I really like the group as a whole and it provides amazing networking opportunities. Everyone works so well together within the individual hospitals and helps out at other hospitals within the group when needed. You also have the opportunity to train and learn from so many other people. As far as the way they treat the employees, they really show they are appreciative of you. There is a lot of room for advancement here and the support is amazing as you are trying to take your career to the next level.

If you met someone who was thinking about applying for a position as a tech with AZPetVet, what is the one question you would ask them? Picking just one is hard. I would definitely want to know "What are they looking for?” I would want them to expand on what they think is important as far as customer service is concerned and make sure they understand that WOW factor we look for. Overall, I just want to know that they have the strong work ethic and dedication that we believe in. Obviously you have to have a love for animals, but the dedication and ability to communicate is really important as well.

That is a good thing to ask them. Now, what is the thing you would want them to know about you, the group as a whole? The family atmosphere we have and the importance we hold to really treating each person that the walks through the door as an individual. We need to make sure that's something they can do. We're not a big corporation that treats our clients like they are all the same and have the same needs. Again, it would be important for us to make sure that they have the work ethic and dedication to do that.

Jennifer Yohe Territory Manager AZPetVet
Jennifer Yohe Territory Manager AZPetVet

What things over the past have been rewarding for you? I get excited when team members learn something new. For me, knowing that we have helped them do that makes me smile. Part of my job is to help team members shine. I like to let them make their own decisions, instead of being told exactly how to do things like some other corporate offices do. When you let people grow and give them opportunities, everyone wins.

How is AZPV different?  We work closely with our clients; they know we are going to help them provide the best quality care for their pets. Each pet patient is treated as an individual, and we design care and treatment plans around their unique needs. Plus, with our payment plan program, our pet parents are able to get the treatment for their pets when they need it without delay.

What keeps you here? The team. I love the team! The doctors, technicians, support staff...they're why I'm here. The love of what I do and who I get to do it with is what gets me up in the morning.

Life happens. It happens at work, home, and in all aspects of life. You have been here a long time, how does it all work together? The AZPetVet organization and individual hospital leadership is very supportive of our team members. We care for each other, and it is noticeable. When you are in the office, we all share a solid work ethic. And, when you need to be with your family, we want you to be there - we want our team members to have work/life balance.

Dr. Roger Willms Partner/Owner Arrow Animal Hospital With AZPetVet Since 2000
Dr. Roger Willms Partner/Owner Arrow Animal Hospital With AZPetVet Since 2000

You've been with AZPetVet for 15 years, what do you see in the future for the AZPetVet family? I have seen AZPetVet go from just a few hospitals to 20 now. I still like the feel that each hospital is unique and individual. At the same time, I really appreciate that we have great business partners and team members that allow us to focus on our medicine and patients, and not get bogged down in payroll, HR, and accounting issues.

What is your favorite thing about AZPetVet? It's great to have the resources of nearly 70 vets in our organization...we have older vets with years of practical wisdom, and new graduates that are up to date on the most cutting edge medicine and surgery.

What is the best advice you can give to new graduates as they enter the field? I would advise them to be very selective when taking their first job as a veterinarian. Developing the skills required to be a good vet is largely obtained in the first couple years. Having good mentors and role models can make the transition from academia to real life practice much easier.

What is on the top of your bucket list right now? After years of hard work and dedication I would like to be able to give back to my parents for being so supportive in all aspects of my life. I would like to take them on a vacation they would never take on their own.

Sean Farmer Certified Veterinary Technician Goodyear Animal Hospital & Grooming
Sean Farmer Certified Veterinary Technician Goodyear Animal Hospital & Grooming

What's your favorite thing about working with animals? Well, animals don't really have a voice, and by being here for them, and figuring out what is going on with their health, I can act as their voice. We're able to identify the problems, treat them, and help them get better. We're helping animals who can't help themselves.

Why did you join AZPetVet? Previously, I'd worked at a spay and neuter clinic while I was in school. While we cared for the animals, it had a more of an assembly line feeling - the connections were fleeting. I did two internships at AZPetVet, and it was like coming home. We just fit.

I like having the chance to get to know my pet patients, and the family environment of AZPetVet makes it even more special. Our patients are a part of our family, too, and we do everything we can to make sure they stay well and happy throughout their lives. It's true of our team members as well. We all genuinely care for one another, and I believe it shows in our work.

What's the most important thing for people to know about the organization? While it might sound a bit cheesy, it's our WOW Promise. When you first begin, you hear all about it, but as time passes, you really begin to live it. To go the extra mile. It's so important, because for every patient we see, we're also seeing an owner who may be worried, or scared. The WOW Promise is quite simply doing our very best every single day for our patients and pet parents.

Hannah Voigt Client Relationship Specialist Dobson Ranch Animal Hospital & Grooming
Hannah Voigt Client Relationship Specialist Dobson Ranch Animal Hospital & Grooming

You've been here for 10 years; can you talk about opportunities for someone who is just starting out? There is always room to grow. I started out as an assistant, and then cross-trained as a CRS. From there, I grew to technician, and now I am a supervisor. There is always room to grow and be a part of something. We've talked about me moving up more, and when the opportunity comes... you can move anywhere. If there is an opportunity at our group office, you can always advance there as well. No one's job or position is better than anyone else's...we are a team, we're a hospital and we do everything together. There is always opportunity for advancement if you want it.

What is the one thing that keeps you on this path? Truthfully, my team members. We have all been working together for eons. We don't have a high turnover here...so if we didn't have it together, people probably would have left a long time ago. We've grown as a team, we've grown as a hospital, we've grown as a group, we've grown as a business, and it's just getting better as time goes on. The growth is exciting. Usually, I'm not one to embrace change, but this is change that's worth getting excited about!

Dr. Vic Saltzman Partner/Owner Happy Valley Animal Hospital With AZPetVet Since 1988
Dr. Vic Saltzman Partner/Owner Happy Valley Animal Hospital With AZPetVet Since 1988

What makes AZPetVet as a group and as individual hospitals better than and different than the competition? I think one of the major things is that we try to stay on the cutting edge of most medicine and surgery. We continually strive to improve in that area rather than get into a rut and stay there. Change is hard, but the only real constant is change. We understand that, and we try to implement change and mentor the people that come to join us. Our group is more like a co-op than a corporation. So with that model in mind, we work together as a team and our goal within the hospital is to build that same teamwork mentality, we don't want to create a hospital that revolves around one person or a couple of people because if those people leave, then the hospital can fall apart.

So speak a little bit on the family perspective, what does family mean to you and how do you think the team perceives family from a company perspective? We used to be called Arrow Group and now it's AZPetVet, so the cool thing is that it has continued to change over the years. The interesting thing is that we kind of developed a mindset of what kind of picture we want long term of the kind of company we want to represent and that continues to evolve with time. The most important thing is core values and that we actually implement them in our practice, not just talk about them. What's great about that is then people learn that the type of environment we have is the type of environment that you can build trust in. We also strive to improve communication because without trust and communication we don't have anything. We feel those are the two most important things for someone to be satisfied in a working environment so we do everything we can to provide that.

On an emotional side...what would you share? In the hospitals I work at, it's about building relationships and teaching people how to produce leaders and reproduce themselves. There are people that have been here for over 10 years and the turnover is very small. It becomes like a family in a sense. They are fun to be around, but you have your issues too. When you have open lines of communication you can resolve those issues and you can always learn to do life better. Not just in veterinary medicine, but also in life.

Dr. John Graham Dobson Ranch Animal Hospital & Grooming With AZPetVet Since 2012
Dr. John Graham Dobson Ranch Animal Hospital & Grooming With AZPetVet Since 2012

On the outside looking in...what inspires someone to be part of AZPetVet as a whole? When was the first time you realized you wanted to be in this as a career? I'm pretty sure I knew when we got our first puppy. I feel I really enjoyed it more than most people - just a general love for this puppy and animals overall. The position as a vet, especially as a general practitioner, gives you the opportunity to make your career what you want it to be, whether that is keeping it simple and only seeing healthy pets, or expanding into things like orthopedics and advanced medicine. At AZPetVet there really aren't any boundaries, which is a cool thing!

Because there are 20 and counting hospitals, how does that help you in your practice and how you approach medicine? The AZPetVet family definitely provides a sense of an internal motivation. We have a lot of doctors in the group that are practicing high levels of medicine and it gives me motivation to reach those levels. I keep that in mind while planning my training. You have the opportunity to learn a ton about everything!

What can you say about the WOW promise? I think that's ultimately important. It takes work to maintain that promise because, in all honesty, some days it's hard to be WOW. Being WOW means truly investing all your energy into what you are doing; addressing everything that you're capable of addressing and doing it whole-heartedly.