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Making a Name in the Veterinary Industry

Sarah Vagnoni, staff writer

In 1987, when Diana Hagenlocker was getting ready to graduate from high school, she told her guidance counselor that she wanted to be a veterinarian. Her counselor suggested that she choose a different career path, insinuating that she would not thrive in the male-dominated profession. After choosing a career in the fashion industry instead, it would be over a decade before Hagenlocker found herself working with animals again.

Now, Hagenlocker has become one of the few veterinary practice owners in the valley without a veterinary doctorate degree and has worked to change the veterinary industry without losing sight of her goals.

Photography by Sarah Vagnoni

Photography by Sarah Vagnoni

Hagenlocker’s love for animals started at a young age. “As soon as I could talk, I started talking about how I was going to have a vet practice,” Hagenlocker says, reclining back in her  office chair. Her office is in the heart of Woodworth Animal Hospital, a veterinary practice that she co-owns with Dr. Jennifer Miller.

After heeding her high school guidance counselor’s advice, Hagenlocker instead attended the Philadelphia Institute of Art and spent ten years working in retail and visual merchandising in Philadelphia before moving back to Fishersville.

When home, she worked at a Planter’s Bank as branch manager and a loan officer. “During my time off from the bank, I would work cleaning kennels and taking care of animals at the Augusta SPCA,” Hagenlocker says. She did not start working at Woodworth Animal Hospital until 2006, when she took over as practice manager working for Dr. Dan Woodworth.

This position allowed Hagenlocker to change the industry, working to separate business and medicine. “The vets were the managers, the vets, and everything else with the practices. They realized that, ‘hey, we don’t want to run the business we just want to see patients,’” Hagenlocker says. This is where Hagenlocker, despite not being a licensed veterinarian, was able to find a space in this industry. At Woodworth Animal Hospital, the veterinarians can focus on the patients, while Hagenlocker is able to run the hospital as a business. This role is especially important, as veterinary medicine is a service-driven industry.

After working at Woodworth for six years, Hagenlocker and Miller decided to purchase the practice from Dr. Woodworth. This transition was no small feat, as the change of ownership rocked the practice and showed the two women who was really there for them. “You’d think that people would be excited for you and appreciate your journey,” Hagenlocker says, “But sometimes, Dr. Miller and I wouldn’t even want to come into our own building because some people were so nasty…we finally had this thought, ‘well wait a minute, it’s our building. If they don’t like us or what we’re doing, they can leave.’” Hagenlocker and Dr. Miller replaced this negativity with a staff of supportive people, all of whom care for the animals and not the drama.

Through her own persistence, Hagenlocker finally achieved her childhood dreams. Despite being led off the traditional path of becoming a licensed veterinarian and owning a practice, Hagenlocker still made it back into this business. “Everything I’ve done has led me this point, and this became very obvious to me when I got here,” she says. She took each job as a learning experience instead of a road block, not letting them deter her but rather letting them help her along her journey, even if the meaning seemed unclear. “Everything that you’re doing does help you, can lead you to the path that you want to be on,” she said.

 

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Posted by on Nov 6 2017. Filed under From the Forum, Local News, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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