Jen Flower

Chief Clinical Veterinarian
Mystic Aquarium
What is your current job and what does it entail? 

As a Chief Clinical Veterinarian, I am primarily responsible for providing health care services for our aquarium collection of marine mammals, penguins, reptiles, amphibians, sharks, fish and invertebrates as well as the animals in our Animal Rescue Program. I assist our husbandry staff in animal management related to nutritional, environmental, and exhibit needs of our animals and am also responsible for development and oversight of animal quarantine protocols. In addition, I conduct research and publish case reports to help advance the field of aquatic animal medicine. In my current role I oversee and manage the clinical laboratory staff, associate veterinarian, veterinary intern, and veterinary technicians.

What was the key factor in your career decision? 

I knew I wanted to make a difference in the field of veterinary medicine by contributing valuable research to assist in conservation. Through my job I am able to provide high quality medical care to our aquarium animals, while also assisting in field work operations around the world and participating in valuable research projects that improve the health and understanding of aquatic wildlife.

What do like most about your career? 

The interactions and relationships that I have built with the animals and the privilege of working with a very skilled and dedicated husbandry team.

What do you like least about your career? 

This career can often be stressful and involve long hours, but overall is very rewarding.

What do you do to relax? 

I like to go running, paddleboarding, going to the beach, or anything else outside. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends

Who are your heroes/heroines? 

My mom has always been my role model. She has supported and encouraged me throughout my entire life and always taught me to follow my dreams.

What advice would you give a student who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in your field? 

Start early. Take as many science classes as you can. Volunteer at your local small animal clinic, shelter, zoo, aquarium, or farm. Get to know veterinarians in your area, talk to them about their careers and build relationships with them. Learn about the pre-requisites for veterinary school and plan your college curriculum accordingly. Continue to learn all you can about every field of veterinary medicine, until you find the one that inspires you most.

Are career opportunities in your field increasing or decreasing and why? 

Career opportunities as an aquatic animal veterinarian are always limited, since it is such a specialized field. However, more zoos and aquariums are investing in highly trained and skilled veterinary teams and it is likely that this will continue to be a top priority for zoo and aquarium programs in the future.

What will you be doing 10 years from today? 

Hopefully I will be here in my same role, continuing to do what I love every day.

Woman in chest waders receives kiss on cheek from white beluga whale in aquarium pool.

Through my job I am able to provide high quality medical care to our aquarium animals, while also assisting in field work operations around the world and participating in valuable research projects that improve the health and understanding of aquatic wildlife.

Education

B.S., Zoology, Miami University of Ohio
M.S., Veterinary Clinical Medicine, University of Illinois
DVM, Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University
Diplomate, American College of Zoological Medicine