Women of the Zoo: Meet Dr. Kami
How did Dr. Kami go from a young child caring for farm animals in the country to a Staff Veterinarian examining Sumatran Tigers here at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo? Well, her journey is marked with personal and professional successes that inspired her passion for animals and developed her admirable leadership skills.
After studying and training as a vet technician, Dr. Kami knew she had found a sweet spot in her career. “I knew I loved zoos and I knew I loved veterinarian medicine,” Dr. Kami said. “This is the combination I wanted to do.”
Now, as Staff Veterinarian at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Dr. Kami’s responsibilities include overseeing the health of the animals, which involves preventative medicines, diagnostics, quarantines, animal transfers, hospital procedures and pest control strategies. Outside of the hospital, she leads the environmental quality program which monitors the water, soil, air, temperature, and lighting of each exhibit. As if that wasn’t enough, Dr. Kami also sits on four committees: the Animal Research and Conservation Committee, the Behavior Management Committee, the Animal Management Committee and the leadership team.
You could say Dr. Kami is a modern-day Dr. Dolittle who spends her days taking care of each animal at the Zoo. However, her talents extend well beyond the front gates of the Zoo as she works directly with several of our conservation partners including the Mariana Avifauna Conservation Project and the Help the Hellbenders project. Through these projects, Dr. Kami works hard to relocate endangered species to new thriving habitats.
With all Dr. Kami has on her plate, it’s amazing that she remains such a strong and efficient leader. To avoid burnout, Dr. Kami has come up with a system and a set of boundaries for herself.
- If you have a running to-do list, prioritize which tasks are the most urgent and focus on just a few of them a day.
- Make sure you have the right people on your team that are willing to help so you can delegate tasks.
- Occasionally say “no” to the addition of more tasks, projects, or even opportunities to avoid getting overwhelmed.
- Set boundaries for being available outside of work. Be okay with not responding right away to non-emergencies.
- Have a personal outlet to destress. Work out, read a book, or spend time with loved ones. Relax at home so you can lead efficiently and kindly at work.
- Be open to learning more about your roles through research and simply asking coworkers for advice.
For anyone interested in being a veterinarian or veterinarian manager, Dr. Kami is proof that it is attainable as long as it’s your passion. “The best part of my job is that I love my job,” Dr. Kami said. “I think that’s often rare for a lot of people. Choose what you love!”
Written by Tarah Zumbrun, Communications Intern