Kara Ryczek, D.V.M. ’96

Kara Ryczek, D.V.M. ’96, with her dog, Charlie

DEGREES/TRAINING: B.S. in biology with a minor in environmental studies; D.V.M., Tufts University; 13-month rotating internship in medicine, surgery, and emergency care, VCA South Shore Animal Hospital 

JOB TITLE: Veterinarian and owner of Paws Calls mobile veterinary practice

FAVORITE MEMORY: My favorite memory at Trinity overall was the student/friendship bonds that were formed. For me, this was in the gym, on the lacrosse field, and, of course, in the labs! I am blessed to have gone to Trinity; it definitely helped pave my path to become the successful and confident woman I am today.

What led you to become a veterinarian? During my senior year at Trinity, I did a semester-long externship at a local small-animal hospital. This hospital kept me on as an employee for my spring semester as well. During this year and with this hands-on experience, I decided that veterinary medicine would be a great fit for me. It is a career that demands compassion, intelligence, and the ability to multitask, as well as working with people and animals every day. Most people forget that 90 percent of veterinary medicine is actually working hand and hand with people.

Would you tell us more about your career path? After my internship, I worked only with companion animals, in both privately owned small-animal hospitals and a few larger emergency-care facilities. Once I was married with two children, Lincoln, 10, and Beatrice, 8, I scaled back my schedule to part time. This allowed me to juggle my life as a mom and a veterinarian. It is a great profession to allow for a healthy work-life balance. 

How did the timing of the launch of your mobile clinic align with the pandemic? I actually decided to open my business, Paws Calls, prior to the pandemic. I had been practicing for 20 years by then, and I felt I had the confidence and experience to go out on my own. Starting a mobile practice was a decision based on community need as well as allowing for a flexible work schedule. Having two children with many school and extracurricular activities can be difficult to manage when working a traditional 40-hour workweek. I also was excited to start my own practice and manage both the business and medical side on my own. The pandemic hit about one month after I opened Paws Calls, which actually was good timing. Veterinary hospitals were not taking on any new clients, owners had to wait outside hospitals while their pets were seen, and many families adopted new pets! I think owners realized this setup was easier for them to schedule appointments and was less hectic and stressful for everyone. 

What do you enjoy most about what you do? As mentioned above, I truly enjoy working with families in their home environments. This is much less stressful for the pets as well as their owners. People really appreciate the convenience and level of care they receive at their homes. They can call or text me on off hours and actually talk to a doctor. I enjoy having the flexibility of managing my daily appointments, which makes life easier as a mom and long-distance runner. 

What challenges do you face? I am currently not set up to do invasive surgeries or complicated procedures. Hopefully, dental procedures will be next on our list of additional equipment this year. Thankfully, there are a few very good referral hospitals in my area, as well as a hospital that will cover my spays and neuters. 

How did your time at Trinity prepare you for what you do? While at Trinity, I was involved in many activities other than academics. I played basketball and lacrosse for four years and was captain of both teams. I was elected as a two-time All-American for lacrosse and also was awarded the Trinity Club of Hartford Trophy my senior year. Athletics was a major part of my Trinity experience. I played with many incredible women and have maintained friendships since graduating. Balancing the rigorous schedule of a biology major and collegiate athlete as well as working helped me improve my ability to multitask and to gain confidence as a team leader.  

Did you have a professor who was particularly influential? My most influential professor was Craig Schneider. He was my botany professor, and I still remember the passion he showed toward his work and students. He always went above and beyond. I remember going on field studies and working on projects that always excited me. It was obvious how much he loved his work and the Trinity community.